Farm and Ranch
NRCS Texas announces additional 2024 National Water Quality Initiative sign-ups through EQIP
May 23, 2024
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas announced an additional Fiscal Year 2024 sign-up for the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) offered through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). NRCS Texas will consider NWQI applications received by May 17, 2024, for the FY24 funding opportunity.  

The purpose of NWQI is to work with agriculture producers and landowners to improve water quality. NWQI is designed to help individual agriculture producers take actions to reduce runoff of sediment, nutrients, and pathogens into surface waters where the water quality is a critical concern.   

EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and forest landowners to address natural resource concerns. NRCS works one-on-one with producers to develop a conservation plan that outlines conservation practices and activities to help solve on-farm resource issues. Producers implement practices and activities in their conservation plan that can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better wildlife habitat, all while improving agricultural operations.  

NWQI is being offered in four priority Hydrologic Unit Code-12 (HUC-12) watershed areas: Aransas River, Big Elm Creek, Lake Lavon and Lampasas River. 

  • The Aransas River priority area consists of 12 HUC-12 watersheds in Bee, Refugio and San Patricio counties.  
  • The Big Elm Creek priority area consists of seven HUC-12 watersheds in Bell, Falls, Milam and McLennan counties.   
  • The Lake Lavon priority area consists of nine HUC-12 watersheds in Grayson, Fannin, Collin and Hunt counties.

  • The Lampasas River priority area consists of eight HUC-12 watersheds in Lampasas and Burnet counties.

Applying for assistance

NRCS accepts applications for conservation programs year-round; however, applications must be submitted by May 17, 2024, to be considered for funding in FY24. Applications received after the listed date will be automatically deferred to the next funding period. 

NRCS has developed a faster process to approve producer applications for its conservation programs. Using its “Act Now” authority, NRCS can now pre-approve applications when they meet or exceed a pre-determined minimum ranking score. Applications are ranked according to local resource concerns; the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants.

Applications for eligible practices that meet or exceed pre-determined minimum ranking thresholds, which is 30 for Texas, will be considered for priority funding when applying for this initiative. 

This means funding decisions can be made without having to wait for all applications to be reviewed and ranked. This can potentially allow farmers to start conservation projects earlier instead of waiting long periods to know if a project will be funded.

Producers, landowners and forest managers interested in applying for assistance should contact their local NRCS service center.  Applicants are encouraged to schedule an appointment with their local Farm Service Agency county office when applying for NRCS programs to establish or update records.