NB_300_21_38 - 300-21-38 LTP – Funding Guidance on Edge-of-Field Water Quality Monitoring
300-21-38 LTP – Funding Guidance on Edge-of-Field Water Quality Monitoring
National Bulletin: 300-21-38 Date: June 30, 2021
Subject: LTP – Funding Guidance on Edge-of-Field Water Quality Monitoring


Action Required By:  July 14, 2021
 
Purpose.  To provide State conservationists (STCs) and directors information and funding guidance for edge-of-field water quality monitoring (EoF monitoring) supported through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
 
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2021
 

Background.  The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) established EoF monitoring activity standards to address three primary purposes: 1) evaluate conservation system performance, 2) validate and calibrate models, and 3) inform on-farm adaptive management.

To support implementation of these conservation activities, dedicated EQIP funding is available for EoF monitoring in approved watersheds. Existing EQIP allocations may also be used for EoF monitoring in certain circumstances.        

 

Explanation.  NRCS supports EoF monitoring through two EoF monitoring activity standards:

• Conservation Activity 201 - Edge-of-Field Water Quality Monitoring – Data Collection and Evaluation
• Conservation Activity 202 - Edge-of-Field Water Quality Monitoring – System Installation

During fiscal year (FY) 2021, STCs and directors may receive additional EQIP funding from National Headquarters (NHQ) to implement these activities in priority 12-digit hydrologic unit code watersheds. Any watershed that has a surface water quality degradation resource concern due to excessive nutrients or excessive sediments will be considered for funding through the EoF monitoring EQIP allocation based upon information provided in attachment A.

STCs and directors must complete the following actions within the timeframes specified:

Notice of Priority Watershed Selection—To participate, STCs and directors must submit a Notice of Priority Watershed Selection (attachment A) for EoF monitoring to Karma Anderson, Water Quality and Quantity Team (WQQT) leader, by July 14, 2021. Instead, STCs and directors will select priority watersheds for their State and notify the WQQT leader of their selection through attachment A. STCs and directors are encouraged to target watersheds based on impairment, producer and partner interest, and proximity to in-stream monitoring and other EoF monitoring. The WQQT will provide assistance in watershed selection if requested. Multiple watersheds may be selected within a State, but each watershed must be identified and include all the criteria listed in attachment A.

National Announcement of Funding—NHQ may issue an announcement that FY 2021 EoF monitoring funding is available and will include a list of those States and watersheds where the funding opportunity will be offered.

Funding Opportunity Announcement—By July 28, 2021, STCs and directors will announce within their respective States and eligible watersheds the opportunity for producers to apply for NRCS-funded EoF monitoring.

State Fund Management Actions—States must complete the following subaccount setup no later than July 28, 2021.
 

1. Subaccount Guidance

NHQ has established the following account type to support the EoF monitoring opportunity.

Account Type

Water Quality Monitoring Activity


Selected States will use the account type and associate it to an iteratively named subaccount in ProTracts appropriate for their approved watersheds.

Subaccount Name

Chesapeake Monitoring

Mississippi Basin Monitoring

Lake Champlain Monitoring

Great Lakes Monitoring

NWQI Monitoring

Other Priority Monitoring

State Priority Monitoring


No subaccounts other than those listed above may be established at the State or local level for EoF monitoring during FY 2021. EQIP funding may not be used for in-stream or “pour point” water quality monitoring. EoF monitoring may not be supported using other Farm Bill programs.

2. Application, Evaluation, and Ranking Tool Guidance – Choice Lists and Matrix Data

A. Approved Land Types

Required Land Use

Crop or pasture

 Note: No additional land types may be added or used to support monitoring.

B. Approved Natural Resource Concerns

Water Quality

Excessive Nutrients in Surface Waters

Excessive Sediment in Surface Waters

 Note: No additional resource concerns may be added or used to support monitoring.

C. Eligible Practices—“Core” practices eligible for the monitoring opportunity are listed in the Eligible Practices for Monitoring (attachment B). States may offer “supporting” practices if both of the criteria below are met.
• The practice is essential to support the successful function of a “Core” practice.
• The proposed conservation practice is approved by the Water Quality Management Team.

Funds for conservation practices that will be monitored and subsequently analyzed for adaptive management purposes will come from the States’ general EQIP allocation.

3. Application Period—Although applications for EQIP are accepted year-round, only the following ranking period will be announced and supported during FY 2021 for monitoring.

Approved Application Period—From program announcement to August 9, 2021, all eligible applications received by this date must be ranked no later than August 23, 2021. NHQ will pull a list of ranked applications from ProTracts after this date and no additional consideration will be allowed after this date.

4. Application Selection—Once States submit their ranked applications, NHQ will determine which applications to fund within each subaccount. A list of selected applications will be sent to each State by Friday, September 10, 2021. States will then follow the process for establishing contracts outlined in Title 440, Conservation Programs Manual, Part 512, Subpart E, Section 512.42.

5. Fund Management—NHQ will use the following guidance to manage funds for selected applications.

A. National Funding Opportunity—NHQ will allocate funds to States based on the planned cost in the application according to the payment schedules of the monitoring activities (201 and 202) for selected applications. States will then reallocate their funds to the appropriate monitoring subaccount. However, States must support the costs associated with the remaining core and supporting conservation practices using their general EQIP funds. States must submit an allowance change request through the Allotment Planning and Management tool to ensure accurate tracking of EoF funds.

Note: Although States will be required to use general EQIP funds to support this opportunity, both the monitoring activities and all relevant core or supporting practices will be obligated in a single contract.

B. State Funding Opportunity.—STCs and directors authorized to use their general EQIP funds to support all EoF monitoring activities (activities 201 and 202, and core and supporting practices) may add additional general EQIP financial assistance to the State priority monitoring account. NHQ will initiate the transfer of funds via APM.

6. Obligation Deadline—All approved monitoring contracts must be obligated by September 29, 2021. Unobligated funds must be returned to NHQ, and NHQ will initiate the transfer of funds via APM.

7. Technical Training—Several national technical trainings related to the EoF monitoring activity standards were held by webinar. The recordings, presentations, and activity standards are available at http://www.conservationwebinars.net/search?SearchableText=edge+of+field.  Please contact Karma Anderson with additional training requests.

 
Contact.  If you have any questions, contact your regional conservationist or Karma Anderson, Water Quality and Quantity Team leader, at Karma.Anderson@usda.gov
 
 

 /s/

DIANE GELBURD                                        JIMMY BRAMBLETT
Deputy Chief Science and Technology          Deputy Chief Programs      
 

Attachment A – Notice of Priority Watershed Selection

Attachment B – Eligible Practices for Monitoring

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