USDA Revises National Standard to Improve Nutrient Efficiency and Water Quality

On December 13th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the publication of its revised 590 Nutrient Management Conservation Practice Standard to help producers better manage the application of nutrients on agricultural land.  The nutrient management standard provides a roadmap for NRCS’s staff and others to help producers apply available nutrient sources using the four “R’s approach:  the Right amount, from the Right source, in the Right place, at the Right time for maximum agricultural and environmental benefits.


While the standard offers a holistic approach to nutrient management with a goal of protecting water quality, several items in the standard for state water programs to be aware of include:

  • The exception for applying fertilizer on frozen soil “when specified conditions are met and adequate conservation measures are installed to prevent the offsite delivery of nutrients” (see standard page 590-3); and
  • The requirement for a “NRCS-approved nutrient risk assessment for phosphorus to be completed (see standard page 590-1) when:
    • The phosphorus application rate exceeds land-grant university fertility rate guidelines for the planned crop(s), or
    • The planned area is within a phosphorus impaired watershed (contributes to 303d-listed water bodies), or
    • Where the NRCS and State water quality control authority have not determined specific conditions where the risk of phosphorus loss is low.”


USDA will begin training with its state conservationists next week on the revised standard and will encourage them to work with the appropriate state water quality agencies to target technical and financial assistance to farmers.  State drinking water programs should reach out to their water quality programs and state conservationist to help prioritize drinking water protection.


To review the revised standard and to learn more about how nutrient management fits into NRCS’s conservation work, visit the USDA web site at:


Join us for a Webinar on January 19: Using Clean Water Act Funding for Source Water Protection

The Association of State Drinking Water Administrators and the Ground Water Protection Council (ASDWA and GWPC) would like you to join us for this webinar on January 19, 2012 from 12:00pm to 1:30pm (eastern time).


Reserve your Webinar seat now at:


Call-In: 866-777-6650, Code: 405.516.4973

AUDIENCE – The primary audience for the webinar is state drinking water and ground water program staff.  However, we are extending an invitation to state clean water agencies, other associations, and EPA Headquarters and Regional staff.


EPA Clean Water Funding for Source Water Protection – Stephanie Von Feck and Lynda Hall of EPA will provide a quick overview of the Clean Water SRF (CWSRF) and 319 programs and discuss the legal aspects of using these programs for source water protection.  Also, to provide national statistics and information about funded projects and to offer some insight for how state drinking water programs might align priorities with state clean water programs.

The Trust for Public Land – Matt Zeiper and Kelley Hart of TPL will discuss case examples using CWSRF (and combined with other sources of funding) for land conservation.

State Drinking Water and Clean Water Program Coordination – Kitty Weisman and her Clean Water Act (CWA) counterpart from Washington State will discuss coordination efforts and possibilities at the state level.



Webinar:  Using Clean Water Act Funding for Source Water Protection


Thursday, January 19, 2012


12:00 PM – 1:30 PM EST


After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.


System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server


Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer


Article on Keeping Pharmaceuticals Out of Our Water

Check out this article by Circle of Blue entitled, “Unprescribed: Legislation to Keep Drugs Out of Water Thwarted by U.S. Pharmaceutical Lobbying” that speaks to drug disposal programs and efforts.


The article is available at:

Urban Waters Grant Funding Available from EPA

EPA will award at least $1.8 million in funding for projects across the country to help restore urban waters by improving water quality and supporting community revitalization.  The goal of the urban waters small grants are to fund research, studies, training, and demonstration projects that will advance the restoration of urban waters by improving water quality through activities that also support community revitalization and other local priorities such as public health, social and economic opportunities, general livability and environmental justice for residents.  Examples of projects eligible for funding include:


  • Education and training for water quality improvement or green infrastructure jobs
  • Public education about ways to reduce water pollution
  • Local water quality monitoring programs
  • Engaging diverse stakeholders to develop local watershed plans
  • Innovative projects that promote local water quality and community revitalization goals


Proposals are due by January 23, 2012 and EPA expects to award the grants in Summer 2012. For more information about urban waters small grants including the Request for Proposal (RFP) and registration links for the webinars, visit 


EPA’s Urban Waters program supports the goals and principles of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, a partnership of 11 federal agencies working to reconnect urban communities with their waterways.  For information on the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, visit