David White, speaking on behalf of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), detailed how water providers and farmers can form partnerships that are supported by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and other USDA programs to protect water. He provided examples of past successes that benefited both farmers and downstream communities during an address before the Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas. White is the former USDA NRCS chief.
“Every year, voluntary, private land conservation programs spend about $6 billion and make incredible advances in natural resource protection,” White said. “The American Water Works Association is seeking to ensure that at least 10% of those funds – some $600 million a year – is spent on protecting the drinking water that Americans use every day.”
AWWA is urging U.S. Congress to reauthorize the Farm Bill to:
- Provide robust funding for the conservation title;
- Emphasize protecting source water in all conservation programs;
- Expand opportunities for the NRCS to work with water systems to prioritize source water protection activities in each state;
- Increase benefits for farmers who employ practices that benefit downstream water quality; and
- Ensure at least 10% of conservation program funds are focused on the protection of drinking water.
“Cooperative activities represent the best path forward to achieve water quality improvements,” White said.
Source: American Water Works Association