The National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in which the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), state water quality agencies, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) partner to identify and address impaired water bodies through voluntary conservation.
The NRCS provides targeted funding for financial and technical assistance in small priority watersheds to accelerate voluntary conservation investments to deliver the greatest benefits for clean water while maintaining agricultural productivity. State water quality agencies and other partners contribute additional resources for watershed planning, implementation and outreach. The agencies also provide resources for monitoring efforts that help track water quality improvements over time. The program focuses on streams that are impaired by nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus), pathogens, and sediment.
Conservation systems include practices that promote soil health, reduce erosion, and lessen nutrient runoff, such as filter strips, cover crops, reduced tillage, and manure management. These practices not only benefit natural resources but enhance agricultural productivity and profitability by improving soil health and optimizing the use of agricultural inputs.
Deep Creek in Broadwater County was selected as Montana’s National Water Quality Initiative watershed for 2014-2016. In Deep Creek, Montana NRCS invested approximately $1.3 million in 23 contracts from 2014 to 2016 to help address the impairments that have negatively impacted the creek. This partnership effort with the Broadwater Conservation District, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation resulted in improved irrigation efficiency, restored stream flow for aquatic animals, and led to the removal of a DEQ-identified sediment impairment listing.
For more information, see NRCS's Deep Creek NWQI page.
Camp Creek and Godfrey Creek
Camp Creek and Godfrey Creek in Gallatin County were selected as Montana’s priority National Water Quality Initiative watersheds for 2017-2019. Camp Creek and Godfrey Creek are both identified by DEQ as impaired because of nutrients, sediment, E. coli, and habitat alterations. The goals of NWQI in these watersheds are to reduce sediment and agriculture-related nutrient and E. coli loads and improve riparian function. Monitoring began in 2017 via a partnership between DEQ, NRCS and the Gallatin Local Water Quality District.
For more information, see NRCS's Camp Creek and Godfrey Creek NWQI page.