The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide $280,000 in assistance to Delaware farmers in the Clear Brook-Nanticoke River watershed who voluntarily make improvements to their land to improve water quality.
Funding is provided through the National Water Quality Initiative, which helps farmers reduce the runoff of nutrients, sediment and pathogens from agricultural land that can flow into waterways. Now in its third year, NWQI expanded to include more small watersheds across the nation, and it builds on efforts to target high-impact conservation in areas such as the Chesapeake Bay.
“This targeted approach provides a way to focus and accelerate voluntary, private lands conservation investments to improve water quality to areas where they are most needed,” said Kasey Taylor, Delaware state conservationist. “Water quality practices benefit the farmer by lowering input costs while providing cleaner water for the community and healthier habitat for fish and wildlife.”
State water quality agencies and local partners also provide assistance with conservation planning, additional cost-share dollars and technical assistance for conservation, along with outreach to farmers. Through NWQI, these partnerships are growing and offering models for collaborative work in other watersheds.
The Clear Brook-Nanticoke Watershed is located in the western region of Sussex County between Bridgeville and Seaford. Of the 24,000 acres that make up the watershed, 14,000 acres or 60 percent are in agricultural land. The watershed is on Delaware’s list of impaired watersheds due to excess nutrients. State and federal agencies have been extensively monitoring water quality in select areas of the watershed and are looking into new strategies to address agriculture-related water quality issues.
Delaware has $280,000 available in financial assistance for eligible landowners through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for installing conservation systems that help avoid, trap and control run-off in these high-priority watersheds. These practices may include nutrient management, cover crops, conservation cropping systems, filter strips, and in some cases, edge-of-field water quality monitoring.
All eligible applications must be submitted by Friday, Aug.15, for funding in FY 2014, although NRCS accepts applications on a continuous basis throughout the year. Check with a local NRCS office or the website to find watershed location areas.
For more information on NWQI, contact a local USDA Service Center. In Sussex County, call 302-856-3990, Ext. 3. More information on all NRCS programs and services is available at www.de.nrcs.usda.gov.