National Water Quality Initiative announced

In an effort to improve impaired watersheds, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Dave White announced on Tuesday, May 8, that $33 million dollars in financial assistance will be made available to 157 selected watersheds across the country, as part of the National Water Quality Initiative.

“The key here is we’ve allowed our local partners to identify for us the areas of deepest concern from their perspective and this is a targeted, focused effort on those areas of concern,” said Vilsack.

The projects will range in size from 10,000 to 40,000 acres which the Secretary says compliments the larger watershed initiatives already in place.

“The promise of this initiative is that at some point in time in the future we’ll be able to standup and announce the actions of farmers and ranchers that a water body is no longer considered impaired,” the Agriculture Secretary said.

In Ohio three watersheds have been selected, including the Pipe Creek-Frontal Sandusky Bay watershed in Huron and Erie Counties, East Branch South Fork Sugar Creek watershed in Holmes and Tuscarawas Counties, and the Tommy Run-Chippewa Creek watershed in Medina and Wayne Counties.

Sign-up will begin May 18 and end on June 15 at local NRCS offices in the selected watersheds.

Audio: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, NWQI opening statement (8:25 mp3)

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