WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 5, 2014 -- The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) praised the Senate's passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (H.R. 2642) on Monday, Feb. 4, following passage by the House last week. This landmark five-year legislation includes key provisions to strengthen the links between the nation's working agricultural lands and its quality of waters.
Utility leaders across the country joined in praising the conservation provisions included in the Farm Bill, specifically the newly-established Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The RCPP encourages partnerships between agricultural producers and municipal entities like wastewater utilities to help farmers manage nutrients more effectively, provides stable five-year funding for nutrient management practices, prioritizes nutrient management activities in critical watersheds, and prioritizes conservation investments that result in overall water quality gains.
"After years of hard work, we are pleased to see this bipartisan Farm Bill emerge that will help foster new and innovative collaborations between agriculture and clean water agencies. The bill is a significant step forward in our work to more effectively reduce nutrient runoff and continue to meet the nation's water quality needs," said NACWA Executive Director Ken Kirk.
"Forty two years after the passage of the Clean Water Act (CWA), we have reached a point where we must move upstream in our watersheds to realize further water quality improvements," said Kevin Shafer, executive director of Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. "This Farm Bill's Regional Conservation Partnership Program will foster significant progress in a collaborative manner."
NACWA worked with the Healthy Waters Coalition, a coalition of municipal and state water associations, environmental advocates and sustainable agricultural organizations to urge lawmakers to include provisions in the RCPP to target resources to improving water quality through effective nutrient management.|
"Encouraging partnerships through enabling legislation that provides financial fuel to address nutrient issues in our waterways is a big step in the right direction," said David St. Pierre, executive director of Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. "I applaud our leaders in Washington who recognize the big picture challenge involved in nutrient runoff and offering a broader approach."
Senator Debbie Stabenow, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, provided leadership and a strong committment for these efforts and, together with the support and work of Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Senator John Boozman (R-AR) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), ensured that these key provisions remained in the final package. "NACWA appreciates the leadership and support of these senators on behalf of our efforts and looks forward to working with them to ensure the effective implementation of the program," added Kirk.
NACWA represents the interests of more than 300 public agencies and organizations that have made the pursuit of scientifically based, technically sound and cost effective laws and regulations their objective. NACWA members serve the majority of the sewered population in the United States and collectively treat and reclaim more than 18 billion gallons of wastewater daily. For more information, visit www.nacwa.org.