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Healthy Waters Coalition Members Meet with USDA-NRCS to Discuss the New Regional Conservation Partnership Program

On March 6th, members of the Healthy Waters Coalition (a group of state and local organizations dedicated to reducing nutrients contamination), including staff from ASDWA and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) met with representatives from the USDA Natural Resources and Conservation Service to discuss the implementation of the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) in the 2014 Farm Bill.  The RCPP is designed to support partnerships between farmers and non-farming entities, including municipal water and wastewater utilities, to help implement innovative nutrient management practices as an alternative to installing additional treatment technologies at the utility.  While NRCS is in the very early stages of implementing the program, following are some highlights from our discussion:

  • NRCS will be accepting funding applications through an RCPP request for proposals (RFP) that is expected to be released by ‘late spring’.
  • NRCS will likely designate a number of Critical Conservation Areas (CCA) to target funding before the RFP is released.  If a partnership is located in a CCA, funding may be available for 3rd parties, in addition to the producer.  However, every state is expected to be able to fund these types of partnerships through their regular process for engaging producers, even if outside the CCAs.
  • The information solicited in the RCPP RFP will focus on the work/practices to be done on the ground, not which program (EQIP/CSP/CRP) the partnership would need to access in order to implement the work.

NACWA is hoping to conduct a webinar with NRCS staff for all interested water stakeholders about the RCPP roll-out once more details become available.  Stay tuned….