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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces $11 Million in Water Resource Projects


Funds address critical water issues in watersheds across the nation

WASHINGTON.- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture’s (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 critical 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 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, four projects that develop tools 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, and efforts to develop a framework to revamp youth education about water issues. The current focus on education is part of a 2-year effort to launch a Coordinated Agricultural Project to create an innovative, holistic educational environment to transform youth consciousness about water and water issues.

Fiscal Year 2009 NIWQP national and watershed scale grants were awarded to:

- Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo., $615,000, A Multi-Criteria Decision Tool for the Assessment and Planning of Watershed Management Practices

- University of Connecticut, Storrs, Conn., $385,000, Support of NIWQP Research, Education and Extension Outreach through Geospatial Technology Training

- University of Illinois, Urbana, Ill., $660,000, Reducing Nitrate Losses in Tile-Drained Agricultural Watersheds: Integration of Biophysical and Social Sciences with Extension and Education

- Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., $300,000, Impact of Bio-feedstock Production on Hydrology/Water Quality in Midwest and Southeast United States

-Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., $114,000, Environmental Leadership Interdisciplinary Curriculum to Address Water Resources

-University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb., $544,500, Improving and Conserving Water Resources through Stormwater Management Education for Community Decisionmakers of Today and Tomorrow

-North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C., $228,000, Robeson Creek Water Quality Outreach Initiative

-Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa., $240,000, Innovation in Youth Water Education in Pennsylvania Priority Watersheds

-University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn., $652,000, Enhancing Water Quality in Oostanuala Watershed: An Integrated Approach Toward Understanding Adoption and Efficacy of Best Management Practices

-Washington State University, Pullman, Wash., $566,610, Protecting Water Resources by Engaging Stakeholders in Targeted Implementation of Filter Strips

-University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisc., $143,000, Mapping the Future: Youth-Water Programming for the 21st Century

-University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisc., $649,000, Tools for Integrating Land-user Management Decisions with Watershed Processes to Achieve Water Quality Goals

In 2009, NIFA also funded a project in support of USDA’s Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). The CEAP project was part of an initiative to evaluate the effects of grazing practices on watershed health. The FY 2009 CEAP grazing land project was awarded to:

-South Dakota State University, Brookings, S.D., $645,788, Conservation Practices Assessment of the Lower Bad River Basin

The 2009 awards also include regional water resource projects that continue funding for a national network of outcome-focused projects addressing state and local water resource issues. The FY 2009 NIWQP regional water resource grants were awarded to:

-University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz., $550,000, Southwest States and Pacific Islands (Region 9) Water Resources Program

-Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo., $667,000, Coordinated Regional Water Resources Programming for the Northern Plains and Mountains Region

-Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $575,000, Heartland Regional Water Coordination Initiative

-University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, $595,000, Coordination, Development and Delivery of Water Resource Programs in the Pacific Northwest

-University of Maryland, College Park, Md., $600,000, Mid-Atlantic Water Program

-University of Rhode Island, Kingston, R.I., $1,090,000, The Northeast States and Caribbean Islands Regional Water Resource Program

-Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $1,270,000, The Southern Region Water Resource Project

-University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisc., $610,000, Continuing Support for the Great Lakes Region: A Regional Water Resource Project for North Central States in USEPA Region 5

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future. For more information, visit


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