AWWA backs drinking water measures in Farm Bill

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has announced its support for a Farm Bill introduced by the U.S. House Agriculture Committee that recognizes the importance of protecting drinking water sources from nutrient runoff.

In a letter delivered to the committee last week, AWWA thanked Chairman K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., as well as Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Subcommittee Ranking Member Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, for their commitment to protecting source water. The bill, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, includes several key measures advanced by AWWA over the past two years.

“Farm Bill conservation programs, along with partnerships between [the U.S. Department of Agriculture], water utilities and farmers, can be key to protecting drinking water sources,” the letter noted. “AWWA believes the ‘downstream benefits’ and public health benefits of these conservation programs make the conservation title of the farm bill extremely important to all Americans who depend on clean drinking water.”

RELATED: AWWA, former USDA official push Farm Bill measures protecting source water

The bill was introduced just days before 150 water utility managers from 48 states will take to Capitol Hill for more than 400 meetings with their elected representatives as part of the Water Matters! Fly-In event, April 18-19.

Specifically, the recent Farm Bill introduced:

1. Emphasizes protection of drinking water sources throughout the conservation title.
2. Expands opportunities for the Natural Resources Conservation Service to work with water systems to prioritize activities in each state.
3. Increases benefits for farmers who employ practices that benefit downstream water quality.
4. Ensures at least 10 percent of conservation program funds is focused on the protection of drinking water.

“AWWA began to engage in the Farm Bill process over two years ago to bring more attention to the issue of protecting sources of drinking water through conservation practices funded by the Farm Bill,” the letter noted. “We believe it’s important for USDA to emphasize protection of drinking water sources as part of its overall water quality and water quantity mission.”

AWWA created a whiteboard animation video to more clearly illustrate how the Farm Bill’s conservation programs are key to protecting drinking water sources. It is available on AWWA’s YouTube channel.

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