April 2, 2010
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced that it is taking applications for Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) projects until May 17, 2010. AWEP was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill to replace the Ground and Surface Water Conservation Program, a component of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). AWEP expanded the purposes from groundwater and surface water conservation to include water quality improvements. NRCS is providing $20.7 million for AWEP projects in FY2010.
Under AWEP, federally recognized Indian tribes, state and local units of government, agricultural or silvicultural associations, or other such groups of agricultural producers may apply to be “partners” with NRCS in projects that focus on water conservation and improving water quality. Many of the AWEP projects funded in FY2009 had both water conservation and water quality improvement goals.
AWEP is not a grant program. Partners do not receive any funds directly from NRCS. Instead, partners enter agreements with NRCS that spell out water conservation or water quality improvement practices and activities, including conservation planning, that partners would like farmers to undertake in a specified geographic area. When NRCS approves an agreement, farmers in the area who are eligible to receive EQIP funding may apply for cost-share for practices and activities specified in the project agreement and technical assistance from NRCS. The conservation practices and activities funded through AWEP are subject to the requirements of the EQIP regulations.
Applications for AWEP projects delivered to NRCS by mail must be postmarked by May 17, 2010 and applications delivered by courier service must be delivered by May 17, 2010. NRCS will not accept applications submitted by e-mail or fax. More information on AWEP is available in the Federal Register notice for FY2010 funding and the NRCS webpage for AWEP.
Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment