The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week $33 million in assistance will be provided to farmers to make conservation improvements to improve water quality in 174 watersheds – including the Chesapeake Bay.
“This targeted approach provides a way to accelerate voluntary, private lands conservation investments to improve water quality and to focus water quality monitoring and assessment funds where they are most needed,” said Ann Mills of the USDA. “When hundreds of farms take action in one area, one watershed, it can make a real difference to improving water quality.”
Funding is provided through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Now in its third year, NWQI expanded to include more small watersheds across the nation – especially high-impact conservation in areas such as the Chesapeake Bay.
“The collaborative goal is to ensure people and wildlife have clean, safe water,” said NRCS Chief Jason Weller. “Water quality improvement takes time, but by working together and leveraging our technical and financial assistance, we are better able to help farmers and ranchers take voluntary actions in improving water quality while maintaining or improving agricultural productivity.”
Eligible landowners will receive assistance under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for installing conservation systems that help avoid, trap and control run-off. These practices may include nutrient management, cover crops, conservation cropping systems, filter strips, and in some cases, edge-of-field water quality monitoring.
In Chester County, six watersheds drain into the Chesapeake Bay and Susquehanna River basins. These pass through 20 municipalities. Big Elk Creek, Little Elk Creek and Northeast Creek drain into the Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore. The Chester County government office has resources and information for improving water quality here and in the larger regional watersheds.