Sunday 24 Jun 2018

AWWA Whiteboard

AWWA Whiteboard Animation Urges Action On Farm Bill To Protect Drinking Water Sources

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A whiteboard animation produced by the American Water Works Association illustrates how Farm Bill conservation programs along with partnerships between the Unites States Department of Agriculture (USDA), water utilities and farmers can be key to protecting drinking water sources. 

Viewed more than 2,100 times, the video points out how Congress can address nutrient runoff issues through the upcoming Farm Bill reauthorization.

“Partnerships between water utilities and the agricultural community are critical in protecting our environment and drinking water sources,” said Tracy Mehan, AWWA executive director of government affairs. “Now is an opportune time to advance those partnerships through the Farm Bill.”

Using simple drawings, the six-minute video shows how nutrient runoff can lead to harmful algal blooms, such as the one that shut down the drinking water supply of Toledo, Ohio, in 2014 for three days.

“When it rains, chemicals, fertilizers, sediment and animal waste can be washed into streams and those streams feed into rivers, and those rivers feed into lakes,” the video’s narrator states. “Eventually, they can find their way into drinking water supplies for small communities, towns and even big cities.”

Through the Farm Bill, USDA has historically provided funding to farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices on their land. AWWA is asking Congress to include language in the reauthorized bill that specifically emphasizes drinking water protection and encourages farmer-utility collaboration.

Specifically, AWWA is advocating that the reauthorized Farm Bill:

• Provide robust overall funding for the conservation title.
• Emphasize protection of drinking water sources throughout the conservation title. 
• Expand opportunities for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to work with water systems to prioritize activities in each state.
• Increase benefits for farmers who employ practices that benefit downstream water quality.
• Ensure at least 10 percent of conservation program funds is focused on the protection of drinking water.

The video highlights the successful partnerships that have been forged between utilities in Arkansas and Cedar Rapids, Iowa and local farmers by utilizing USDA programs to protect drinking water sources.

The Farm Bill and source water protection will be key issues when AWWA members from throughout the United States meet with members of Congress April 18-19 during the 2018 AWWA Water Matters! Fly-In.