NB_300_21_23 - NB 300-21-23 LTP – Water Bank Program (WBP) – Fiscal Year (FY) 2021
NB 300-21-23 LTP – Water Bank Program (WBP) – Fiscal Year (FY) 2021
National Bulletin: 300-21-23 Date: March 23, 2021
Subject: LTP – Water Bank Program (WBP) – Fiscal Year (FY) 2021

Action Required By:  September 30, 2021
Purpose.  To provide State Conservationists (STCs) in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota with guidance for administering the FY 2021 Water Bank Program (WBP).
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2021
Background.  The purpose of WBP is to preserve and improve major wetlands as habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wildlife, conserve surface waters, reduce runoff and soil and wind erosion, contribute to flood control, improve water quality, improve subsurface moisture, and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape. 
Explanation.  In FY 2021, Congress appropriated $4 million to fund WBP in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. A portion of these funds will be distributed to these States to be utilized for technical assistance funds.

WBP will be administered following policy in Title 120, General Manual, Part 404 “Land Treatment Long-Term Contracting.” WBP is not a Farm Bill program or administered through ProTracts; therefore, policy and procedures contained within Title 440 Programs, Part 530, Working Lands Conservation Programs Manual do not apply. These WBP funds are NRCS funds.

Land that is set aside or diverted under any other program administered by the Department of Agriculture is ineligible for enrollment in the Water Bank Program.

To support the FY 2021 implementation of WBP, STCs must do the following:

A. Advertise and conduct a signup upon receipt of this national bulletin.

B. Enter all applicable data in the National Easement Staging Tool (NEST), the system of record for WBP data, by close of business Monday, June 28, 2021. Unfunded prior-year applications that have been rolled over may be considered to receive FY 2021 funding if eligibility criteria are met. This information will be analyzed by Dave Mason, WBP Manager, and financial assistance (FA) allocations will be made to States based upon the analyzed NEST application data.

C. Obligate funds to agreements by Tuesday, September 28, 2021.

D. Make FY 2021 agreement rental payments by Monday, November 22, 2021.

E. Refer to the implementation guidance for participant and land eligibility, establishing ranking criteria, program participant requirements, the conservation plan of operations, and annual status review guidance.

F. Keep NEST data accurate and up-to-date as projects progress through the enrollment process. States must enter all applicable application and agreement data into NEST prior to the end-of-year NEST maintenance period. At a minimum, States should enter all data related to actions occurring in any quarter prior to the end of the quarter in which the action occurred.

G. Use the attached WBP forms.
Contact.   If you have any questions, contact Dave Mason, WBP manager, at (202) 260-9232 or dave.mason@usda.gov.


Deputy Chief for Programs 
Attachment A - Implementation Guidance
Attachment B - WBP Fact Sheet
Attachment C - AD-1153 - Application for Long-Term Contracted Assistance Through ______ Program
Attachment D - AD-1154 - Long Term Agreement
Attachment E - AD-1155 - Conservation Plan Schedule of Operations
Attachment F - AD-1155A - Conservation Plan Schedule of Operations
Attachment G - AD-1156 - Revision of Plan or Schedule of Operations or Modification of a Contract
Attachment H - AD-1161 - Application for Payment
Attachment I - NRCS-LTP -13 – Status Review
Attachment J - WBP General Provisions
Attachment K - WBP Special Provisions              
[NB_300_21_23 - ]