The latest water-related news and events
The latest water-related news and events
A monthly e-newsletter from the North Central Region Water Network
July 2021
Farm pond in the summer

Network News

We hope you all had a great July! It is conference season once again in our world. We are busy this week attending the Annual Soil and Water Conservation Society Virtual Conference as well as fitting in some long overdue in-person events and field days. While our hydrid life is keeping us busy we wanted to keep you all in the loop of the latest water happenings:
-Rebecca Power and Anne Nardi, the North Central Region Water Network team

P.S. Want your water questions answered by colleagues? Use the North Central Region Water Network listserv to get answers quickly. To subscribe, email
Indian Park Lake in Wisconsin

The Current Webinar Series
State Water Quality Initiatives
Wednesday, August 11, 2021 at 2pm CT

August is National Water Quality Month! To celebrate we are doing a regional round robin on state water quality initiatives. Tune into this month’s The Current to hear about different policies and programs in place to protect water quality across the region – from H2Ohio and the Kansas Reservoir Protection Initiative to the Minnesota Legacy’s Clean Water Fund. Register here
Sara McMillian doing water quality monitoring

Network Spotlight

North Central Region Water Network Awarded $1 Million Grant from the EPA to Cultivate Farmer Conservation Leadership

We are excited to announce that the North Central Region Water Network and our partners at Purdue University, the University of Arkansas, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison were awarded a nearly $1 Million dollar grant through the US EPA’s, “Farmer to Farmer” grant program. The project will work to build farmer leadership to facilitate farmer-to-farmer learning with the ultimate goal of helping farmers be successful with their on-farm conservation and feel inspired to lead their communities toward a future of thriving farms, healthy landscapes, and clean water.   Read on
Nebraska WAVES homepage

Leadership Spotlight

The Nebraska WAVES Program aims to educate busy Nebraskan water citizens and Natural Resource District Directors on watershed management

There is a strong awareness of water resources issues among citizens of Nebraska. Farmers and ranchers are often aware of field-scale challenges of managing water for crop and livestock production. The reliance of most Nebraskans on groundwater for drinking water, plus the long history of irrigated agriculture, means that many citizens interact with this otherwise hidden resource on a daily basis. It is no wonder, then, that Nebraska is known for a unique water management approach that features strong local governance through Natural Resources Districts. There are 23 Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) in Nebraska, each of which employs a manager and staff and is governed by a board of locally elected Directors. Read on

In The News

Upcoming Events
Annual Soil Health Institute Meeting  
August 11th-12th, 9:45AM CT

Over the course of two engaging days, we will bring together the leading voices in soil science and the agriculture industry to share research and insights for advancing the adoption of soil health systems that are foundational for regenerative agriculture.
"Enriching Soil, Enhancing Life" is designed to connect the science of soil health with the information farmers request when adopting soil health practices, and the environmental benefits that follow.  A wide array of practical information, research, and actionable takeaways will be presented that are relevant to farmers, agribusiness, consultants, scientists, field conservationists, government, and non-governmental organization professionals around the world. Learn more
Ohio State University: Tri-State Precision Agriculture Conference 
August 11th, 8AM CT

Join Ohio State University and its partners for their annual tri-state agricultural conference. Topics of discussion include tillage and its role in nutrient loss, current tillage technology, and field demos. Learn more

Michigan State University Extension: Irrigation Webinar Series
August 18th, 12pm CT

This six session series focuses on irrigation topics such as irrigation management, irrigation efficiency, new and expanding irrigation projects and a weather and crop update. Topics include: Irrigation management and efficiency – Dr. Younsuk Dong , MSU BAE-Irrigation Specialist, Irrigating fresh market vegetables for top quality – Dr. Ron Goldy, MSU Vegetable Educator Emeritus, Irrigating tree fruit - Nikki Rothwell, MSU Tree Fruit Educator, Northwest Horticulture Experiment Statio, Irrigation for Ornamental Horticulture – Dr. Tom Fernandez. Learn more

2021 Drainage Tools Workshop

August 24th, 9am-3pm ET
Michigan State Univeristy Extension's 2021 Drainage Tools Workshop will be held virtually on August 24, 2021 from 9:00 am to 3:00pm ET. Learn the basics of using tools to make informed decisions about drainage for crop production and water-quality protection. The workshop will discuss conservation drainage design practices, tools to help design drainage systems that more effectively and maximize profit, and tools to inform decision-making. CCA credits available. Registration is free. Learn More

Funding and Opportunities

Call for Speakers & Abstracts: 2021 Eastern South Dakota Water Conference

The South Dakota Water Resources Institute is soliciting abstracts relating to water resources and water management for the 2021 Eastern South Dakota Water Conference. The theme for this year’s conference is “Ground Truth – Water Resource Management and Remote Sensing”. The deadline for submitting an abstract is August 20, 2021 @ 5:00 p.m. CST. Abstracts are limited to a maximum of 1,500 characters and must be submitted via the online form. Oral presentations will be limited to 15 minutes plus 5 minutes for questions. Learn more

NIDIS FY 2022 Coping with Drought Competitions
This competition will focus on research to improve our understanding, early warning, and management of drought risk in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems to inform more deliberate and expanded decision-making that supports sustainable, healthy, and resilient ecosystems. Pending the availability of funds in FY 2022, NIDIS anticipates a funding allocation of up to $2.0 million. Proposals may request funding of up to $600,000 to be expended over two years in the form of Cooperative Agreements. A total of 6–7 projects may be funded. Letters of Intent should be received by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on August 9, 2021. Learn more

NRCS FY 2021 Conservation Innovation Grants Program 

NRCS is announcing the availability of up to $15 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) funding to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies in conjunction with agricultural production. CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches (such as market-based systems) to agricultural producers, into technical manuals and guides, or to the private sector. Projects may be between 1 and 3 years in duration. Learn more

Program Manager Opening - Illinois River Watershed Partnership
The Illinois River Watershed Partnership (IRWP) is seeking a dedicated and conservation-minded individual to fulfill the role of Program Manager. The mission of IRWP is to improve the integrity of the Illinois River through public education, community outreach, and implementation of conservation and restoration projects. This position will be responsible for fulfilling youth education and water quality monitoring programs. Someone who is dynamic, adaptable, and self-directed will be the key to success for this position.
Learn more

Agriculture Policy Specialist Opening - National Wildlife Federation
To support our mission, we are seeking an Agriculture Policy Specialist to join our Land Stewardship Team at the National Advocacy Center in Washington, DC.. In this role, you will advise and assist the Director of Agriculture Policy in NWF’s work on the conservation and climate provisions of the Farm Bill, and other agriculture related legislative and policy issues.  Portfolio issue areas will include: promoting climate beneficial agriculture practices and policy, diversification of agriculture systems, agriculture appropriations, and other conservation related agriculture policy issues. Learn more

EPA Identifies Drinking Water Contaminants for Potential Regulation - 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced Draft Contaminant Candidate List 5 (CCL 5), which provides the latest list of drinking water contaminants that are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems and are not currently subject to EPA drinking water regulations. As directed by the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA’s CCL 5 identifies priority contaminants to consider for potential regulation to ensure that public health is protected. “This important step will help ensure that communities across the nation have safe water by improving EPA’s understanding of contaminants in drinking water,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “On PFAS, the agency is working with the scientific community to prioritize the assessment and regulatory evaluation of all chemicals as contaminants.” 
Read on

Its Not Just Water Supply: Drought Harms Water Quality, Too - Bloomberg
A June heat wave sparked an earlier-than-expected algae bloom in the drought-ravaged drinking water reservoir in Price, Utah—a sign of climate change-related water quality challenges to come in the tinder-dry West. Extreme heat and wildfires are engulfing the region amid a historic drought that scientists think may be the region’s worst in at least 1,200 years. In response, some drinking water systems are beginning to grapple with maintaining both water supplies and water quality as they deal with potential legal and regulatory concerns. Read on

Impacts of Rental Agreements on Cover Crop and Conservation Practice Adoption - University of Illinois, Farm Doc Daily

Cover crops reduce nitrogen effluent in water and increase soil carbon over time, thereby providing environmental benefits, which may also translate into longer-term economic benefits. However, the costs associated with cover crops in the initial years usually exceed benefits accruing directly to farmers and landowners. Over time, benefits may increase and exceed costs. Land tenure and rental arrangements likely will impact adoption, with adoption more likely on owned farmland than rented farmland. Public policy that encourages cover crop adoption should consider rental arrangements’ impact on incentives. Similar incentive issues exist for other conservation practices, as well as carbon credit markets. Read on

The US is about to go all-in on paying farmers and foresters to trap carbon. The problem? Its unclear if carbon offsets actually work. - Grist

Since signing up with Nori, Garrett has raked in nearly $150,000 for capturing carbon in his soil, though it’s hard to know exactly how much carbon Garrett is actually storing. And because of that, it’s impossible to know if he’s storing more carbon than he would have put into his fields if he hadn’t gotten paid. That’s a problem for the carbon offset market (which is somewhere around a billion dollars according to some reports), which is built on the idea that money will persuade someone, somewhere, to remove additionalcarbon dioxide from the air. Read on

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