National Water Quality
The goal of the NIFA National Water Quality
Program (NWQP) is to protect or improve the
quality of water resources throughout the
U.S. and its territories, particularly in
agriculturally managed watersheds. It seeks
to address this goal at the national, regional,
state, and local levels.
NWQP brings university scientists, instructors,
and extension educators into more effective
and efficient partnerships with federal interagency
priority programs to address water quality
issues in U.S. agriculture. A key emphasis
of the program is integration of extension,
research, and education resources to solve
water quality problems at the local level.
NWQP is supported in part by the Section
406 National Integrated Water Quality Competitive
Grants Program. This program includes regional
water quality coordination projects and associated
direct-funded projects to support integrated,
multifunctional agricultural research, extension,
and education activities.
The program is guided by a unique model
for shared leadership which includes representatives
from each of 10 regional projects (Environmental
Protection Agency, or EPA, regions), representatives
from 1890 and 1994 institutions, and the
NIFA national program leader for Water
Quality. It is called the NIFA Committee
for Shared Leadership for Water Quality (CSL-WQ).
Agriculture is recognized as the leading
agent of non-point source pollution across
the U.S. The
National Water Quality Program provides
research, education, and extension activities
to address these non-point source pollution
challenges in agricultural and rural watersheds.
Through a collaborative effort with representatives
from land-grant universities and colleges,
eight key “themes” have been
identified that represent critical challenges
affecting the quality of our nation's water
resources in agricultural and rural watersheds.
These themes are:
- Animal manure management
- Drinking water/Human health
- Environmental restoration
- Nutrient and pesticide management
- Pollution assessment and prevention
- Water management and conservation
- Water policy and economics
- Watershed management
Current Areas of Emphasis
Section 406 of the Agricultural Research,
Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998
(AREERA) (7 U.S.C. 7626) authorized the Secretary
of Agriculture to establish a competitive
grants program for NIFA water quality funding,
which includes four major categories:
Regional Coordination Projects use
state water quality coordinators to promote
regional collaboration, enhance delivery
of successful programs, and encourage multistate
and multi-region efforts to protect and restore
water resources in 10 regions consistent
with the EPA regional structure. Activities
- Annual national water quality conferences
are enabling strategic planning and national
program coordination organized around the
eight key water quality themes listed above.
- Regional water quality coordination meetings
and conferences are facilitating resource
sharing and technology transfer.
- Regional water quality databases have
been developed to share information and
resources across state and regional boundaries.
- Partnerships are being formed and strengthened
with federal and state agencies and organizations
to enhance program delivery.
Integrated Projects implement a focused
research effort along with outreach education
to address a watershed concern. Thirty-seven
integrated projects have been funded, including:
Extension Education Projects deliver
outreach programs into target watersheds.
Since 2000, twenty Extension Education projects
have been implemented. Example programs include:
National Facilitation Projects coordinate
and support implementation of successful
programs that are relevant across the U.S.
Four National Facilitation Projects have
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