By ecoRI News staff
TOLLAND, Conn. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is investing $25 million to help targeted agricultural producers improve water quality in high-priority streams and rivers across the country, including two in Connecticut.
Through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), NRCS will help the state’s agricultural producers in the Broad Brook and Little River watersheds apply conservation measures to address water-quality concerns such as excess nitrogen and phosphorous, sediment, and pathogens.
“Clean water is in everyone’s interest and the best way to achieve it is through the types of partnerships forged by programs like NWQI,” said Thomas Morgart, NRCS state conservationist in Connecticut. “When farmers and forest landowners come together to improve water quality, we’re able to achieve bigger benefits.”
NWQI helps producers adopt conservation practices such as improving soil nutrient management, planting cover crops, using conservation cropping systems, establishing filter strips, and monitoring water quality.
This year, NRCS is bolstering water-quality efforts by introducing a new evaluation tool that will help producers in the selected watersheds assess how their farm is operating, the value of conservation already in place, and identify areas they may want to improve and practices they may want to implement.
To select NWQI watersheds, NRCS worked with water-quality agencies and other partners that provided additional funding and assistance with watershed planning and outreach.
“As farmers work to improve water quality while providing food and fiber for the nation, they also help provide their communities with clean waterways, safe drinking water, and healthy habitat for fish and wildlife,” Morgart said.