(February 26, 2019) - NACWA met with farmers from across the country February 21, during a meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, DC. As part of an ongoing dialogue with national agriculture groups, the conversation focused on how to incentivize clean water agencies and farmers to work together at the watershed level to address water quality impacts caused by nutrients.
Encouraged by recent actions taken by the Trump Administration—including a joint EPA and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) letter sent to all 50 states supporting local solutions, as well as a more recent EPA memo published February 6 seeking to provide additional flexibility in water quality trading programs—the Farm Bureau and other key national agriculture groups have looked to NACWA to explore opportunities for our two communities to work together.
David Ross, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water, also spoke at the February 21 meeting and stressed that EPA is interested in showing progress on the nutrient issue, and that he hopes to work in several areas around the country to put some of the ideas found in the February 6 memo to the test.
NACWA was encouraged by the memo, including the flexibility it seeks to create around issues like baselines and credit stacking and banking. The Association has been focused on ensuring that clean water utilities can get credit for work they are doing in the watershed—even where there is no formal trading program—and potentially other incentives to encourage collaboration before stringent permit limits are in place. All NACWA members are strongly encouraged to review the new memo and consider whether partnerships in local watersheds may be an effective nutrient reduction strategy.
NACWA’s dialogue with the national agriculture groups continues, and meetings with EPA and USDA are planned for later this year. Members with any questions can contact Chris Hornback, NACWA’s Deputy CEO.