Wednesday, April 2, 2014
State Conservationist Ann English recently announced the launch of the third year of the National Water Quality Initiative committed to improving four impaired waterways in South Carolina.
Through this effort, eligible producers in Aiken/Lexington County’s Chinquapin Creek, Florence County’s Big Swamp, Saluda County’s Upper Little Saluda River, and Dorchester’s Polk Swamp will invest in voluntary conservation actions to help provide cleaner water for their neighbors and communities.
Agricultural producers in these four SC priority watersheds should submit applications by April 18.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will manage the initiative by making funds available to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in the selected watersheds.
NRCS will make available nearly $35 million in financial assistance to farmers and ranchers in 165 priority watersheds this year to implement suites of conservation practices intended to improve water quality.
“These are voluntary efforts focused in small watersheds where the implementation of conservation systems can yield results for locally important waters,” said English. “When farmers and ranchers work to improve water quality, they also help provide the nation with clean waterways, safe drinking water and healthy habitat for fish and wildlife.”
The agency worked closely with partners, including state water quality agencies, to refine the eligible priority watersheds this year. These partners assisted in selecting one to 12 priority watersheds in every state where on-farm conservation investments will deliver the greatest water quality improvement benefits. These watershed projects will each address one or more of the following water quality concerns: excess nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment or pathogens.
Eligible producers will receive assistance under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for installing conservation systems that may include practices such as nutrient management, cover crops, conservation cropping systems, filter strips, terraces, and in some cases, edge-of-field water quality monitoring.
NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year. Check with your local NRCS office to see if you are located in one of the four selected watersheds in South Carolina.