The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has introduced a guide designed to walk utility systems through water conservation programs available via the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The guide, USDA Tools to Support Source Water Protection, provides information about keeping drinking water safe and free of excess nutrients. AWWA outlines programs available from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service and provides utilities with contact information for additional USDA resources through the Agricultural Research Service, Climate Hubs, Economic Research Service and others.

As the largest association of water professionals in the world, the AWWA encourages collaboration between the water community and agricultural producers to reduce nutrient runoff and better protect source waters. The guide supports that premise, encouraging mutually beneficial partnerships.

“The USDA conservation programs have tremendous potential to forge partnerships that benefit both agricultural producers and water consumers,” said Tracy Mehan, AWWA executive director of government affairs. “This guide provides an inventory of available programs, guidance on how to access those programs and real-life case studies that demonstrate the power of utility-farmer collaborations.”

Case studies from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Beaver Water District, Ark., are offered as examples of how preventative programs might be implemented. AWWA says it hopes the guide will foster healthy source water programs and underline the importance of preserving those USDA conservation programs in the 2018 farm bill.

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