Water quality program offered for impaired Ohio watersheds in Crawford and two other locations

Applications from farmers and forest owners located in these watersheds due by March 18

Staff report

For the fourth consecutive year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer an opportunity for agricultural producers in three Ohio watersheds to apply for assistance to apply conservation practices that protect water quality through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI).

NRCS conservation professionals will provide technical assistance to help farmers with approved applications determine which conservation actions will provide the best results to improve water quality on their land. Nutrient management, erosion control, conservation tillage, and buffer systems are just some of the practices being offered as part of the NWQI. To help install these conservation practices, NRCS will provide financial assistance payments to approved applicants through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

NRCS worked closely with partners to select the priority watersheds. State agencies, key partners, and technical experts chose the following three watersheds where on-farm conservation investments have the best chance to improve water quality.

* Brandywine Creek-Broken Sword Creek Watershed (Crawford County)

* Fivemile Creek-East Fork Little Miami River Watershed (Clermont and Brown Counties)

* East Branch South Fork Sugar Creek Watershed (Tuscarawas and Holmes Counties)

NRCS is piloting a new Water Quality Index for Agricultural Runoff which will provide science-based information to help landowners determine the effectiveness of alternative conservation systems at achieving water quality improvement. Water quality monitoring by State water quality agencies and other partners both in-stream and at the watershed-level will provide data for the Index and will track water quality improvements in some of the project watersheds.

NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year. For the NWQI, NRCS will select applications submitted by March 18, 2016.

Applications submitted by entities, such as farmers applying as a corporation, must register with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR), a process that can take up to 3 weeks. Information about CCR requirements, including obtaining a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number, is posted on the NRCS website at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/farmbill.

Applications from farmers and forest owners located in these watersheds due by March 18

Staff report