Oct 23, 2009

Agriculture Secretary Announces $11 Million in Water Resource Projects

Funds address critical water issues in watersheds across nation

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has awarded more than $11 million through the National Integrated Water Quality Program (NIWQP) to address critical water resource issues, including water quality protection and water conservation.

“Cities, communities and rural areas across the nation depend on a safe and abundant supply of water for drinking and cooking,” Vilsack said. “This research will play a vital role in our understanding of the part water plays in the ecosystem and developing tools and strategies to effectively manage our water resources.”

The NIWQP supports research, education and extension projects and programs that address water resource issues in agricultural, rural and urban watersheds. These projects reflect the growing need to combine knowledge from biological and physical sciences with social and economic sciences to address complex water issues, the USDA said. The NIWQP focuses on addressing water issues at the watershed scale. Projects funded by the NIWQP are outcome-oriented, aiming to increase awareness and change behaviors related to water resource management.

Funded projects in Fiscal Year 2009 include a project that evaluates the impacts of bioenergy development on water resources. There also are four projects that develop tools aiming to improve the effectiveness of conservation practices to achieve water quality goals by targeting critical areas and key individuals that offer the greatest opportunity to improve water quality.

In addition, there are efforts to develop a framework to revamp youth education about water issues. The current focus on education is part of a two-year effort to launch a coordinated agricultural project to create an innovative, holistic educational environment to transform youth consciousness about water and water issues, the USDA said.

For more information, visit www.nifa.usda.gov.