Requests Public Input on Key Water Quality Initiatives
Online public comments encouraged before
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[March 18, 2023]
The U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) is asking for public input on two water quality conservation
initiatives, the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds
Initiative (MRBI) and the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI).
the Federal Register notice published today, USDA’s Natural
Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) seeks feedback on how best
to target program benefits, quantify impact, and improve program
delivery and outreach in the future.
“In watersheds across the country, we have seen the benefits of
targeting resources, working one-on-one with farmers and
ranchers to voluntarily implement conservation practices that
improve water quality and often have climate co-benefits” said
NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. “We’re proud of what the Mississippi
River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative and the National Water
Quality Initiative have accomplished, and we look forward to
continuing to improve our efforts to ensure they provide the
greatest impact for producers, communities and our nation’s
Information gathered through the Federal Register notice will
help inform NRCS efforts to identify and prioritize improvements
to these initiatives starting in fiscal year 2024.
This is a 30-day public comment period. Public comments should
be submitted through the Federal Register notice by April 7,
2023. Questions should be sent to
Launched in 2009, the 12-state MRBI uses several Farm Bill
programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program
(EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), to help
landowners sustain America’s natural resources through voluntary
conservation. States within the Mississippi River Basin have
developed nutrient reduction strategies to minimize the
contributions of nitrogen and phosphorus to surface waters
within the basin, and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico.
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MRBI uses a small watershed approach (HUC 12) to
support the states’ reduction strategies. Avoiding, controlling, and
trapping practices are implemented to reduce the amount of nutrients
flowing from agricultural land into waterways and to improve the
resiliency of working lands.
Over the past ten years, MRBI has helped farmers and ranchers:
Implement conservation on nearly 1.5 million acres.
Reduce sediment loss by more than 2.4 million tons.
Reduce phosphorous loss by more than 5.5 million pounds.
Reduce nitrogen loss by more than 20.2 million pounds.
NWQI was launched in 2012, and is a partnership among
NRCS, state water quality agencies and the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency to identify and address impaired water bodies
through voluntary conservation. Through NWQI, NRCS provides targeted
funding for financial and technical assistance to help farmers apply
conservation practices to protect water resources.
Over the past ten years through NWQI, NRCS helped farmers and
Reduce sediment loss by more than 1.1 million tons.
Reduce phosphorus loss by more than 3.1 million pounds.
Reduce nitrogen loss by more than 13.5 million pounds.
Public Affairs Specialist
USDA NRCS Illinois]