National Water Quality Initiative

Through the National Water Quality Initiative the Natural Resources Conservation Service will work with farmers and ranchers in small watersheds to improve water quality. The NRCS will provide financial assistance to help farmers and ranchers implement conservation systems to reduce nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and pathogen contributions from agricultural land.

Eligible producers will receive assistance under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for installing conservation systems that may include practices such as nutrient management, cover crops, conservation cropping systems, filter strips, terraces, and in some cases, edge-of-field water quality monitoring.

Conservation Funding and Practices

NRCS conservation professionals will provide technical assistance and planning tools to help farmers and ranchers determine which conservation actions will provide the best results to improve water quality on their land. Nutrient management systems, erosion control, conservation tillage, pest management, and buffers systems are just some of the practices being offered as part of the National Water Quality Initiative. To help install these conservation practices, NRCS will provide financial assistance payments to eligible producers through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).


NRCS identified priority watersheds through the help of local partnerships and state water quality agencies. Partners sometimes offer financial assistance in addition to NRCS programs. NRCS will continue to coordinate with local and state agencies, conservation districts, nongovernmental organizations and others to implement this initiative. This strategic approach will leverage funds and provide streamlined assistance to help individual agricultural producers take needed actions to reduce the runoff of sediment, nutrients and pathogens into waterways where water quality is a critical concern.

Producer Benefits

Water quality-related conservation practices benefit agricultural producers by lowering input costs and enhancing the productivity of working lands. Conservation investments are good for all Americans because well managed farms limit pollution from runoff, produce food and fiber, sustain rural economies, and provide food security to the Nation. All across the country—farmers and ranchers are voluntarily taking action and putting conservation on the ground to improve water quality on millions of acres of working lands!

Public Benefits

NRCS is proud to be involved in a nationwide effort with landowners and communities to improve and protect our water resources. The landowners and farmers/ranchers participating in the initiative will receive conservation payments to work on the land in a sustainable way which provides cleaner water. In addition to the financial assistance, the land will remain productive into the future. Communities benefit by having clean waterways, safer drinking water and healthy habitat for fish and wildlife.

How to Apply

You will need to establish eligibility and farm records for your land. NRCS will help you complete an application while explaining which conservation practices are available in your watershed. Visit your local NRCS office to see if you are located in a selected watershed and for more information.

Contact National Water Quality Initiative


National Service


Service Area

National service provider

Office Locaters

To request additions or corrections to this entry email the Administrator