A white paper entitled Collaborating for Healthy Watersheds, highlighting nine successful municipal-agricultural collaborations that address water quality issues at the watershed level, is being released today by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), AGree, and the U.S. Water Alliance. The three organizations collaborated on the effort, which describes partnership models between municipalities and farmers that can lead to progress on attaining water quality goals and reducing nutrient pollution in our nation's surface waters.
'When agricultural activities contribute to water quality impairments, as they too frequently do, it often means a big loss for us that work the land. It is our precious soil and expensive nutrients running into waterways that causes the problems,' said Jim Moseley, Indiana farmer, Co-Chair of AGree, and former Deputy Secretary of USDA. 'There are win-win opportunities for farmers to work with water utilities to improve water quality in their watersheds. As the case studies in this paper demonstrate, the bottom line of both farmers and utilities can benefit from collaboration. This is a very positive path forward.'
The traditional approach of building more and more advanced treatment facilities can result in an economic burden to many communities. Therefore, both water and wastewater utilities have looked for more cost-effective solutions to create healthy watersheds and good water quality. One of the most promising approaches is to look upstream in the watershed to see if there are ways to prevent nutrients and other pollutants from being released into waterways in collaboration with agriculture and other partners.
'What's become increasingly evident is that collaboration between agriculture and the water sector is key to water sustainably,' explains Dick Champion, U.S. Water Alliance Chair. 'This report represents progress in that direction.'
The nine highlighted projects discussed in the white paper include:
- New York: New York City's Watershed Protection Program and Watershed Agricultural Council
- Oregon: Tualatin River Enhanced Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
- Ohio: The Great Miami River Watershed Water Quality Credit Trading Program
- Wisconsin: Yahara Watershed Improvement Network (WINs)
- California: Fresno-Clovis Regional Water Reclamation Facility (RWRF) Agricultural
- Illinois: Lake Springfield Nitrogen Management Program
- California: Central Valley Salinity Alternatives for Long-Term Sustainability (CVSALTS)
- Florida: Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program - Payment for Environmental Services
- Texas: Arroyo Colorado Watershed Protection Plan
'We hope that the white paper will encourage many stakeholders to seriously consider and become involved in innovative collaborations with nontraditional partners to improve water quality in a more holistic manner. This White Paper demonstrates that such partnerships are indeed achievable and successful,' states Ken Kirk, Executive Director of NACWA.