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For Immediate Release: May 16, 2007
NACWA, Other Water Sector Groups Urge More Conservation Funding in Farm Bill
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and other water sector organizations sent a joint letter today to Congress urging members to “provide cooperative opportunities for water quality, quantity and conservation initiatives in the upcoming reauthorization” of the Farm Bill. The letters were sent to chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over Farm Bill reauthorization. Signing onto the letters were NACWA, the American Public Works Association, the Association of California Water Agencies, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, the American Water Works Association, Inland Empire Utilities Agency, the National Association of Water Companies, the National Water Resources Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Western Coalition of Arid States, the WateReuse Association, and the Water Environment Federation. The organizations have been working together not only to promote more funding for Farm Bill conservation programs, but to ensure that the Farm Bill makes water quality a top priority for program funding.
The 2002 Farm Bill contains numerous conservation-oriented programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Conservation Security Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which reward farmers for maintaining land and practicing environmentally friendly farming methods. However, these programs overwhelmingly promote actions by individual farmers rather than cooperative, multi-stakeholder approaches that focus on watersheds.
“Even absent federal assistance, a limited number of drinking water and wastewater systems have engaged in partnership programs, exemplifying the potential of such cooperation,” the letter said. “For instance, California’s Inland Empire Utility Agency partners with local dairy farmers and others to generate electricity from methane gas derived from dairy manure and yard waste. This effort protects vulnerable ground water supplies, relieves producers of potential financial and regulatory burdens, and provides the utility with renewable electricity. With a greater federal commitment, more farmer-water utility partnerships like this one could be created across the country.”
The groups support a proposal by the Bush administration — the Regional Water Enhancement Program (RWEP) — that would set aside $175 million annually within the EQIP program for competitive grants to groups, including farmers and water and wastewater utilities, to implement water quality and conservation projects in their watersheds.
“Although we believe that the proposal’s authorization level should be substantially increased given the likely allocation of only an average of $3.5 million per state, if appropriated, RWEP serves as an excellent example of the type of cooperative program that will encourage environmental partnerships,” the letter said.
NACWA represents the interests of the nation’s publicly owned wastewater treatment works, serving the majority of the sewered population in the United States, collectively treating and reclaiming over 18 billion gallons of wastewater every day.
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