The USDA announced 2021 priority watersheds for water quality projects
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has named 379 priority watersheds to help agricultural producers improve water quality across the country.
These targeted watersheds will receive focused financial and technical resources through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) landscape-level water-quality efforts, the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) and National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), according to NRCS.
“We see a positive impact when we partner with producers to deliver conservation practices to critical watersheds,” said Farm Production and Conservation Under Secretary Bill Northey, who made the announcement at the Hypoxia Task Force meeting. “These focused partnerships allow us to maximize the delivery of our conservation efforts and achieve greater improvements to water quality, which benefits the participating producers, the public, and our nation’s natural resources.”
The assistance from NRCS helps farmers and ranchers with implementing practices that avoid, control, and trap nutrients and sediment, reported NRCS.
Even more, the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) will ensure that MRBI-eligible states will have at least one project. A total of 204 watersheds will receive financial assistance for practice implementation and an additional 72 watersheds are in the planning stage.
MRBI supports nutrient loss reduction strategy with the following overall goals: improving water quality; restoring wetlands; and enhancing wildlife habitat.
NRCS has also designated watersheds within the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) to find and address impaired surface water bodies through voluntary conservation. NWQI includes protection for both surface and ground sources of drinking water. According to NRCS, there are 24 source water protection projects and a total of 175 watersheds will be receiving financial assistance.
According to NRCS, water quality is improving in NWQI watersheds.