The National Resources Conservation Service (NCRS) under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now accepting applications to the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  The RCPP competitively awards funds to conservation projects created and managed by partnerships between eligible entities. Farms and other agricultural entities, through their use of fertilizers, are often the source of nutrient pollution in nearby water sources. The RCPP encourages farmers to partner with non-agricultural entities, such as wastewater utilities and municipal storm water agencies, to use available resources to reduce nutrient runoff pollution.  The RCPP is beneficial to the environment and the economy because it allows for the treatment of water pollution at the source. When farmers work with wastewater utilities to treat water before runoff flows to municipal water sources, municipalities can save money in water treatment and pass those savings along to rate payers.

 

The USDA, with participating partners, is funding the RCPP at $2.4 billion over the next five years. The USDA will provide $400 million in funding during this first year of the program. There will be three different funding pools for applicants to choose from: the national funding pool, the state funding pool, and the critical conservation area (CCA) funding pool. Projects that only deal with one state will be eligible for state funding; while projects covering multiple states will be eligible for national funding. Only projects that are located in the critical conservation areas, recently designated by the Secretary of Agriculture, will be eligible for CCA funding.  These areas are the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, the Great Lakes Region, the Mississippi River Basin, the Colorado River Basin, the Longleaf Pine Range, the Columbia River Basin, the Prairie Grasslands Region, and the California Bay Delta. State projects will receive 25 percent of the funding; national projects will receive 35 percent of the funding and CCA projects will receive 40 percent of the funding.

 

State and local governments, municipal water treatment entities and water and irrigation districts are among the entities that are eligible to participate in the RCPP. The deadline for application submissions is July 14, 2014. Many state and local agencies targeted by the RCPP are new to conservation programs run by the NRCS. To learn more about the RCPP and how to create a winning application, you can participate in USDA’s online information sessions. Two online sessions will be offered. The first one will be at 2PM EST on Monday, June 9 and the next one will be at 11AM EST on Wednesday, June 11. There will also be an in person information session at USDA headquarters in Washington, DC on Friday, June 6 at 11AM EST.  

 

Click here to learn more about and RSVP for the USDA information sessions.

 

Click here to view the official grant announcement.

 

Click here to learn more about the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.