NB_300_22_54 - NB 300-22-54 LTP – Funding Guidance on Edge-of-Field Water Quality Monitoring
NB 300-22-54 LTP – Funding Guidance on Edge-of-Field Water Quality Monitoring
National Bulletin: 300-22-54  
Date: August 24, 2022 
Subject: LTP – Funding Guidance on Edge-of-Field Water Quality Monitoring


Action Requested By:  September 9, 2022
 
Purpose.   This national bulletin provides State conservationists (STCs) and area 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, 2022 
 
Background.   NRCS established EoF monitoring activity standards to evaluate conservation system performance, validate and calibrate models, and inform on-farm adaptive management.

To support implementation of these conservation activities, dedicated EQIP funding is available for EoF monitoring. 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) 2022, STCs may receive additional EQIP funding from national headquarters (NHQ) to implement these activities in 12-digit priority 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 must complete the following actions within the timeframes specified:

Notice of Priority Watershed Selection.—To participate, STCs must submit a Notice of Priority Watershed Selection (attachment A) to Karma Anderson, Water Quality and Quantity Team leader, at Karma.Anderson@usda.gov by September 9, 2022. STCs will select priority watersheds for their State and notify the Water Quality Management Team (WQMT) of their selection through attachment A. STCs are encouraged to target watersheds based on impairment, producer and partner interest, and proximity to in-stream monitoring and other EoF monitoring. The WQMT will provide assistance in watershed selection if requested. Multiple watersheds may be selected within a State, but each watershed must be identified and must include all the criteria listed in attachment A.

Funding Opportunity Announcement.—By September 9, 2022, STCs will announce within their respective States and eligible watersheds the opportunity for producers to apply for NRCS-funded EoF monitoring.

State Fund Management.—States must complete the following actions no later than September 9, 2022.

  1. Subaccount Guidance

NHQ has established the Water Quality Monitoring Activity account type to support the EoF monitoring opportunity.

Under this account type are subaccounts in ProTracts. States will select the appropriate subaccounts for their approved watersheds. The list of subaccounts are as follows.

Subaccount Name

Chesapeake Monitoring

Mississippi Basin Monitoring

Lake Champlain Monitoring

Great Lakes Monitoring

NWQI Monitoring

Other Priority Monitoring

State Priority Monitoring

No other subaccounts may be established at the State or local level for EoF monitoring during FY 2023. 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.

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

A.   Approved land types are crop and pasture land. No additional land uses may be added to support monitoring.

B.   Approved natural resource concerns include Water Quality – Excessive Nutrients in Surface Waters and Water Quality – Excessive Sediment in Surface Waters. 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 list (attachment B). States may offer producer funds for “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 WQMT.

Conservation practices that will be monitored and subsequently analyzed for adaptive management purposes are funded by the States’ general EQIP allocation.

  1. Application Period.—Although applications for EQIP are accepted year-round, only the approved application period will be announced and supported during FY 2022 for monitoring. The approved application period is from program announcement to September 16, 2022. All eligible applications received by this date must be ranked no later than September 21, 2022. NHQ will pull a list of ranked applications from ProTracts after this date and no additional consideration will be allowed afterwards.
  2. 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 September 28, 2022. States will then follow the process for establishing contracts outlined in Title 440, Conservation Programs Manual, Part 530, Subpart E.
  3. 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 (APM) tool to ensure accurate tracking of EoF monitoring 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 authorized to use their general EQIP funds to support all EoF monitoring activities (201, 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 through APM.

  1. Obligation Deadline.—All approved monitoring contracts must be obligated by September 30, 2022. Unobligated funds must be returned to NHQ. NHQ will initiate the transfer of funds through APM.
  2. Technical Training.—Several national technical trainings related to the EoF monitoring activity standards were held by webinar. The recordings and presentations are available at http://www.conservationwebinars.net/search?SearchableText=edge+of+field. Please contact Karma Anderson for 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/

NOLLER HERBERT                                         KAREN WOODRICH (Acting)
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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