NB_300_19_18 - NB 300-19-18 LTP – New Requirements for NWQI and MRBI Watersheds in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020
NB 300-19-18 LTP – New Requirements for NWQI and MRBI Watersheds in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020
National Bulletin: 300-19-18 Date: April 1, 2019
Subject: LTP – New Requirements for NWQI and MRBI Watersheds in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020

Action Requested By: April 30, 2019
Purpose.  To collect information about the readiness status of existing Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) and National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) watersheds and remind State conservationists (STCs) and directors of the Caribbean and Pacific Island Areas of the new requirements for NWQI and MRBI that will take effect in FY 2020. This includes the need for a watershed or source water area assessment that meets NRCS guidance and a multiyear implementation plan for watersheds and source water protection areas in NWQI or MRBI seeking financial assistance for conservation implementation.    
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2019
Background.  On April 24, 2018, Under Secretary Northey approved extension of NWQI and MRBI through FY 2023 with updated criteria. Positive elements of MRBI and NWQI were used to make improvements to each of the initiatives, and they are now delivered with the same requirements. Only the goals of the two initiatives differ. The improvements included providing technical assistance for watershed assessment in MRBI as well as NWQI to help insure that critical source areas have been identified, that watershed goals and interim metrics have been established and that an outreach strategy is in place. NWQI will solicit new priority watersheds through project proposals similar to MRBI, with a project period not to exceed 5 years.

The changes to NWQI and MRBI and the phased approach to implementing the new criteria were detailed in the national bulletins:
• NB 300-18-26, “National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) Watershed Selection and Criteria for Implementation and Readiness Phases of NWQI – Fiscal Year (FY) 2019”
• NB 300-18-27, “National Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) Project Funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 and Opportunity for Readiness Phase for New Watershed Projects”

FY 2019 was identified as a transition year, and STCs were encouraged to work with their partners to put together assessments for any watersheds currently in NWQI and MRBI that were to be continued, but that lacked an assessment or plan meeting NRCS guidance.
Explanation.  Attached are spreadsheets that provide the status of all approved MRBI and NWQI watersheds. Those watersheds in the implementation phase that lack an assessment are identified in the Excel tab named “No Assessment.” Currently only 45 of 201 active NWQI implementation watersheds have an assessment that meets criteria, and only 31 of 138 active MRBI implementation watersheds have assessments.

STCs should work with partners to determine the path of currently approved watersheds in MRBI and NWQI for FY 2020:
1. Continue watersheds where additional treatment is still needed, or
2. Remove watersheds where treatment has been completed, water quality success can be demonstrated or where producer interest has waned.

For all current watersheds in MRBI and NWQI, STCs should complete the last two columns in the “No Assessment” tab of attached spreadsheets (attachments A and B) and indicate whether the State plans to continue with the watersheds. If continuing, provide brief information on how a watershed assessment will be completed. Some watersheds on the “No Assessment” tab may actually have assessments available, but National Headquarters has no record of them. Please identify on the spreadsheet where assessments or plans that meet NRCS guidance (attachment C) are already available. A completed “No Assessment” tab of the attached NWQI and MRBI spreadsheets should be returned to the initiatives coordinator by April 30, 2019. STCs should include copies or links to assessments or plans for continuing watersheds where they are available and have not previously been provided.

The bulletins to solicit changes in watersheds for NWQI and MRBI in FY 2020 are anticipated to be published in June 2019. States should continue to work with partners to identify new priority watersheds for NWQI and MRBI, for either readiness or implementation phases. Continuing watersheds that have not previously provided multiyear implementation plans will be required to provide one – the details will be outlined in this June bulletin. Justification for watersheds that will not continue will be required as part of the June bulletin and does not need to be provided at this time.
Contact.  For additional information or clarification, please contact Dee Carlson, NWQI and MRBI initiatives coordinator, at dee.carlson@wdc.usda.gov or (202) 720-5287.


Acting Regional Conservationist, Northeast

Regional Conservationist, Southeast

Regional Conservationist, Central

Regional Conservationist, West

Deputy Chief for Programs


Attachment A – NWQI_Status (spreadsheet)

Attachment B – MRBI_Status (spreadsheet)

Attachment C – NWQI/MRBI Watershed Assessments

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