Financial Assistance Available to Improve Water Quality in Local Watershed

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is investing $201,000 in the Clear-Brook Nanticoke River Watershed to help Sussex County farmers make improvements on their land to improve water quality. Funding comes through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), which helps farmers target conservation practices to areas where it is needed most.

The NWQI encourages farmers to implement voluntary conservation practices to reduce the runoff of nutrients, sediment and pathogens from agricultural land that can flow into waterways. Eligible practices include nutrient management, manure storage structures, composters, no-till, cover crops and filter strips.

The goal of NWQI is to concentrate conservation practices within select watersheds to maximize gains in the effort to improve water quality. Now in its sixth year, NWQI builds on efforts to target high-impact conservation in areas such as the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

The Clear Brook-Nanticoke River Watershed is located in the western region of Sussex County between Bridgeville and Seaford and is part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Of the 24,000 acres that make up the watershed, 14,000 acres or 60 percent are in agricultural land. The watershed is on the State of Delaware’s list of impaired watersheds due to excess nutrients. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has commissioned a pilot watershed assessment to help characterize and assess the status of a portion of this impaired watershed. Results of the pilot assessment will aid in assessing the efficiency of existing agricultural programs.

NRCS accepts applications year-round but makes funding selections at application cutoff deadlines. Producers with applications in before April 21, 2017 will have a higher chance of application approval as funding is limited. An additional application cutoff date is set for May 19, 2017.

The National Water Quality Initiative is an initiative under NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program. For more information on NWQI, contact your local USDA Service Center. In Sussex County, call 302-856-3990, ext. 3. Additional information on all NRCS programs and services is available online at www.de.nrcs.usda.gov.

NRCS in partnership with conservation districts work with producers to implement voluntary conservation practices on privately-owned agricultural and forest lands.

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