Cape Gazette
http://capegazette.villagesoup.com/p/995910

Funds available for Sussex farmers to improve water quality in impaired watershed

First application deadline June 21
May 04, 2013

State Conservationist Russell Morgan recently announced additional funding for an initiative to improve water quality in the Clear Brook-Nanticoke River Watershed in Delaware.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture  Natural Resources Conservation Service will make $282,000 in assistance available this year to help farmers and forestland owners install conservation practices that manage nutrients, pathogens and sediments. Funding comes through the agency’s National Water Quality Initiative.

Eligible producers will receive assistance for installing conservation systems that include practices such as nutrient management, cover crops, no till, filter strips, heavy-use area protection pads and composting facilities, among many others.

“Improving water quality in the Clear Brook-Nanticoke River Watershed is a priority of NRCS, state agencies and other key conservation partners, which is why we selected it for the second year in a row,” said Morgan. “Strategically targeting our resources in this watershed provides the best chance for maximum improvement in water quality.”

The Clear Brook-Nanticoke River Watershed is 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 the state of 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 agricultural-related water quality issues.

Through this water quality initiative, NRCS is also piloting its new Water Quality Index for Agricultural Runoff. The tool will help landowners determine how alternative conservation systems they are considering will impact water quality improvement. State water quality agencies and other partners will also do in-stream and watershed-level monitoring to track water quality improvements in many of the project watersheds.

NRCS accepts applications year round; the second cutoff date is Friday, July 12. The sooner farmers apply, the better chance they will have to receive funding.

For more information about NRCS’ programs, initiatives and services in Delaware, go to www.de.nrcs.usda.gov or contact the local USDA Service Center. In Sussex County, call 302-856-3990, Ext. 3.

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