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AWWA SWM Conference and Technical Session Highlights Water Supply & Protection

The AWWA Sustainable Water Management Conference was held this week in Tucson, Arizona, where ASDWA sponsored and conducted a technical session on “Building Agriculture and Forestry Partnerships to Protect Drinking Water Sources: Keys to Success.” Participants at the conference included water utilities, consultants, a few state drinking water programs, and more. The conference featured opening presentations by Tim Thomure with Tucson Water who talked about their diversified water management portfolio to recharge groundwater and ensure adequate water supplies, and Brad Udall with the Colorado State University on water and climate impacts, predictions, and policies. Parallel tracks at the conference featured sessions on source water supply and protection, water resource management and planning, resilience and sustainability, and water efficiency.

ASDWA’s technical session included ASDWA staff and representatives from NRCS, AWWA, and EPA. The session presentations offered tips and resources for water utilities and others to partner and leverage funding for NRCS partnership program opportunities. During the session, the panelists shared information and encouraged collaboration in NRCS programs and projects, highlighted mutual goals, and provided examples of state efforts and local projects from across the nation that are implementing conservation and management practices to protect both surface and groundwater sources of drinking water.

Thanks to those states who provided information for us to share on their new NRCS National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) Source Water Protection (SWP) Pilots. There were 16 NWQI SWP Pilot proposals submitted this year from nine states (AL, CT, HI, IA, NE, ND, OR, PA, WV) and all of them were accepted. This session was part of a broader effort by ASDWA and partners to promote collaboration on existing Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects, the new NWQI SWP Pilots, and future opportunities in the new Farm Bill provisions that will now require ten percent of NRCS conservation program funding to be aimed at protecting drinking water sources.

This group will continue our outreach efforts by conducting another session on “Food and Water: Stronger Together,” at River Rally, River Network’s annual conference that will be held in Cleveland, Ohio, from June 21–24, 2019. This conference includes keynote presentations, plenary panels, workshops, and field trips, including a track focused on safe and affordable drinking water.