New NRCS NWQI Bulletin for FY ’21 Watershed Funding

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has posted its National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) watershed selection bulletin for FY ’21. This year, each NRCS state office is required to submit a minimum of three watersheds for NWQI by July 3rd. State source water protection programs are encouraged to start working with your NRCS State Conservationists office as soon as you can to discuss proposing drinking water watersheds for the program and ensure there is enough time to prepare data and information in advance of the due date.

The NWQI targets Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funding for landowners to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved drinking water quality with no match requirements. NWQI watersheds can be submitted for either the “planning” phase (formerly called “readiness” phase) or “implementation” phase. Watersheds that have a watershed assessment and comprehensive plan may be able to go straight into the implementation phase. Spirit Lake in Iowa is a good example of a watershed with a source water protection plan that went straight into the NWQI implementation phase for FY ’19 funding. Watersheds without a plan can go into the planning phase. The NWQI planning phase now has a limit of $50,000 per assessment and funding will be capped at $150,000 per state. For more information, read the NRCS NWQI Bulletin.