ment practices. Water utilities perform sanitary surveys every
five years to assess drinking source water and identify poten-tial
threats to drinking water quality. Potential threats to water
sources, such as cattle grazing, agricultural run-off, wildlife and
aging septic systems of rural residential homes, are commonly
called out. Recommendations often include increased monitor-ing,
implementation of best management practices to ensure
erosion control, fertilizer and pesticide management and best
irrigation practices. The aforementioned land uses, if not em-ploying
thoughtful practices, may degrade water quality by in-troducing
24 SOURCE fall 2019
chemicals and/or contribute to higher nutrient load-ing
and increase the potential for algae blooms in surface water
This is a great opportunity for drinking water providers to
review recommendations for source water protection, reach out
to regional NRCS representatives and local landowners to pair
source water protection projects with a funding program. As
shown above, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program
is a standing program designed to leverage regional cooperation
for water protection. The National Water Quality Initiative is con-sidered
the bread-and-butter program for NRCS and as evident
by its name, is designed to ensure water quality is protected.
An important key to project implementation is identifying
source water impacts or potential impacts and establishing di-alogue
with landowners. If a water agency does not have the
resources to perform outreach or is not entrenched in rural com-munities
that affect its source water quality, there may be other
local options. Many areas in California have resource conserva-tion
districts with staff that specialize in putting boots on the
ground to educate, serve as a liaison between landowners and
government agencies, procure funding and implement projects
that protect and enhance natural resources including land, wa-ter,
soil and other natural resources.
NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION
Regional Conservation Partnership Program
Entities partner with producers to address soil, water,
wildlife and related natural resource concerns on regional
or watershed scales.
Conservation Innovation Grants
Funds development of the tools, technologies and
strategies to support next-generation efforts.
National Water Quality Initiative
Works with landowners to implement conservation
practices in priority watersheds to increase water quality.
NRCS Water Quality Landscape Initiatives
Uses Landscape Conservation Initiatives to accelerate
the benefits of voluntary conservation programs, such as
cleaner water and air.
Offers funding to assist in monitoring water quality and
the edge of producer’s fields to gauge effectiveness of
FOR FARMERS AND RANCHERS
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
Provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural
producers to implement practices that improve natural
resources and help producers meet environmental
regulations. EQIP includes some funding and technical
assistance for producers to monitor their edge-of-field
runoff water quality.
Conservation Stewardship Program
Helps producers implement management activities
beyond the minimum conservation practice standard
Conservation Reserve Program
Provides financial compensation for landowners to
voluntarily remove land from agricultural production
for an extended period to benefit soil, water quality
and wildlife. Run by Farm Service Agency with NRCS
Agriculture Conservation Easement Program
Used to purchase agricultural land easements or to
restore, protect and enhance wetlands using 30-year or
PL-566 Watershed Protection and Flood
Installs watershed protection and improvement
projects that create and protect vital infrastructure while
conserving and protecting natural resources.
Small Watershed Rehabilitation Program
Repairs, updates and improves the longevity of the small
flood control dams reaching the end of their designated lives.
Healthy Forests Reserve Program
Provides payments to landowners to assist them in
restoring and protecting forestland resources on private
lands through permanent and 30-year easements,
contracts and cost-share agreements.
Joint Chief’s Landscape Restoration Partnership
Improves the health of forests where public forests and
grasslands connect to privately owned lands.
Forest Legacy Program
Provides grants to state partners to protect important
forests by providing forest products and resource-based
jobs and protecting air and water quality.
Table 1. Natural Resources Conservation Service Programs