United States
            Environmental Protection
           Water Planning
           Division (WH-554)
           Washington, DC 20460
March 1980
Water Quality
            Farmers and Clean Water:
            Working Together

  The Water Quality Management Bulletin is pub-
  lished from time to time by the Water Planning
  Division of the U.S Environmental Protection
  Agency. Pursuant to the Clean Water Act of 1977
  (Section 101 e), the Bulletin encourages wider
  public participation in water quality management
  by providing information on a broad variety of
  water quality problems and programs and by
  serving as a forum for discussion of issues and
  ideas involving water quality.

     Joseph A. Davis, Editor
     Kenn Speicher, Associate Editor
     Steven B. Maier, Assistant Editor

  Views expressed by authors do not necessarily
  reflect EPA policy. No permission is necessary to
  reproduce contents except copyrighted photos
  and other materials. Subscriptions are available
  free upon  request. Contributions and inquiries
  should be addressed to WQM Bulletin (WH-554),
  Environmental Protection Agency, 401 M St., SW,
  Washington, D.C. 20460.

     Douglas M. Costle, Administrator
     Eckardt C. Beck, Assistant Administrator for
       Water and Waste Management
     Merna Hurd, Director, Water Planning


  Additional copies of this Bulletin are available on
  request from the above address. Quantities may
  be limited.
                                        vvEPA   Water  Quality
Farmers Need Clean Water Too                                   2
  Chris Beck, EPA Assistant Administrator, explains how rural
  pollution can affect farmers.

Growing Pains                                                 4
  Merna Hurd, Director of EPA's Water Planning Division, describes
  the scope of water quality problems caused by sediment,
  pesticides, fertilizers, and other contaminants.

Doing More With What We Have                                  6
  The Rural Clean Water Program and other USDA and EPA efforts
  will give a boost to agricultural nonpoint source controls.

Five Stories                                                    7
  Some examples of strong agricultural pollution control projects in
  South Dakota, New York, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Idaho.

Low-Salt Diet Prescribed for Irrigation                            11
  One-quarter of the U.S. harvest depends on irrigation, but saline
  pollution has already reduced crop yields in some places.

BMPs: Not a Gas Additive                                      14
  A list of some of the principal methods for controlling runoff and
  leaching of nutrients and pesticides.

Coping With Pests — and  Pesticides                             is
  Nonpoint source controls are a second line of defense in
  preventing pesticides from entering the water environment.

Taking It To the Farms                                           w
  M. Rupert Cutler, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, notes a
  growing partnership between farmers and government to
  improve rural water quality.

Conservation Districts                                          20
  James Lake of the National Association of Conservation Districts
  discusses their role as a  voice for the farmer and an ally for clean

Setting Priorities: EPA's Agricultural Nonpoint Source Strategy       22
  A highlight summary of  EPA's Agricultural Nonpoint Source
                                                      U.S.  Environnontal Prot^c+l&n Agency
                                                      E-sicn 5V Library {E?L-1C;
                                                      230 S, Dearborn  Street, Iwaia  1670
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Front Cover: EPA Documerica - Charles O'Raar

By Eckardt C. Beck
Farmers Need

Clean  Water

Crops, Livestock, and Rural
Homes Can Benefit from
Farm  Pollution Control
  There is more than a business
relationship between a farmer
and the land.  There is also an
environmental relationship.
  Farmers intuitively grasped the
concept of "ecology" long
before  it attained its present
vogue. They had to if they
hoped  to survive. And although
you will rarely read about this in
the newspapers, today's  farmers
are probably doing more than
ever to help clean up the
Nation's lakes and streams.
Much work remains, however. In
several areas, soil erosion from
American farms now  exceeds
that of the Dust Bowl days of
the 1930's, and much of  it  finds
its way to our waterways.
  This issue of the Bulletin
focuses on some of the vital
connections between agriculture
and water quality: crops; live
stock;  family  wells; even fishing
ponds  and swimming holes. The
primary fixtures of the farmer's
life are among the first and most
direct beneficiaries of water
pollution controls.
  Large-scale human activity in-
evitably produces an adverse ef-
fect on the environment. The
key is to minimize those  effects.
Ironically, the pollution which
plagues farming is frequently
caused by farming. By sheer
volume, the biggest problem is
erosion. It washes an estimated
1.8 billion tons of valuable  top
soil into America's streams each
year. Along with the  soil par-
ticles may come insecticides,
weed killers, fertilizer nutrients,
bacteria, and  dissolved minerals
and salts.
  This kind of pollution is called
"nonpoint source." Pinning it
down and controlling it is a far
more difficult task than merely
locating and turning off an in-
dustrial outfall pipe. We have the
technological capability to abate
nonpoint source pollution. That
question is not at issue, but in-
stitutional and economic ques-
tions are.
  Answers to such broad and
complex concerns do not come
easily. But nearly everyone
agrees that direct Federal regula-
tion  is not the best answer.
When it come to being knowl-
edgeable about "the lay of the
land," Washington cannot com-
pete with the individual farmer or
rancher.  Nor can anyone else.
  But even those who know the
most cannot successfully  grapple
with complicated issues in isola-
tion. This is where government
can play a constructive role,
through cost-sharing and
technical assistance. State and
local governments (especially
counties and soil conservation
districts) are closest to the peo-
ple who are closest to the prob-
  The Federal government also
has a role to play. This year.
Congress made a $50 million
commitment to the Rural  Clean
Water Program Under this pro-
gram, the Environmental Protec-
tion  Agency and the Department
of Agriculture entered into a
partnership to  help provide
States and localities with  cost-
sharing funds and technical aid.
  More  details about how this
program will work can be found
in the article on page 6. Other
Federal programs which are help-
ing to solve the problem are
listed on pages 6 and 7.
  As Dr. Rupert Cutler, Assis-
tant  Secretary of Agriculture for
Natural Resources and Environ-
ment stresses in his article on
page 18, water quality and
agricultural productivity are not
only  compatible goals, but goals
that  make sense together and
reinforce one another.
  These articles deal with ero-
sion  control, irrigation  efficiency,
and integrated pest management
— all just specialized bureaucratic
terms for sound husbandry and
sound business. Many farmers
are already way out in front of
EPA on these matters. In fact,
we have had trouble keeping up
with farmer applications in
several of  our EPA—USDA
Model Implementation Projects.
  Another of our priorities is
groundwater protection, and it is
worth stressing here that
agriculture has a special
dependency on groundwater.
Almost all (96 percent) of the na-
tion's rural households are sup-
plied by wells, and most of these
are single-family wells subject to
few, if any, water quality safe-
guards.  About two-thirds of all
groundwater used in the U.S.
goes for irrigation, and 61 per-
cent of all water used by
livestock is groundwater.  In the
West especially, irrigated
agriculture is both a victim and a
cause of saline pollution, which
reduces crop yields on one-
quarter of the irrigated land in
that region.
  During my Senate Confirma-
tion Hearings for the position  of
EPA's Assistant Administrator
for Water  and Waste Manage-
ment, I  publicly stated my over-
riding commitment to more ef-
fective  overall management of
the Nation's water quality prob-
lems. The Federal-State-Local
Water Quality Management Pro-
gram will be a keystone in this
effort. Public and  local participa-
tion is a critical component of
that program. If we  don't decide
how to effectively protect our
water resources today, we will
only be  shunting the problem to
our children. Sooner or later it
will have to be addressed, and
the sooner the better—and cer-
tainly, the sooner  the cheaper.
  If you are interested in
agricultural pollution problems,
either as a farmer  or a govern-
ment official,  I hope you will
take the time to read this issue
of the Bulletin. If you would like
more information of this kind,
write and  ask to be  added to the
Bulletin  mailing list.
  Thank you for taking the time
to become better acquainted
with this topic.
                                   Eckardt C  (Chris: Beck is  'he
                                Assistant Administrator for
                                EPA's Office of Water and
                                Waste Management  As such,
                                he /s responsible for all of EPA's
                                programs in water pollution con-
                                trol,  drinking water standards,
                                and  solid and hazardous waste
                                 management  Previously, Mr
                                 Beck has served as EPA's
                                 Region II Administrator INY, NJ,
                                 and PRl, and as Deputy Assis-
                                 tant Administrator for Water
                                 Planning and Standards at EPA
                                 Headquarters in Washington,
                                 D C

USDA Photo
                                                                                             EPA Documerica: Charles O'Rear
     "The tractors came over the roads and into the fields,
   great crawlers moving like insects, having the incredible
   strength of insects... Snub-nosed monsters, raising the dust
   and sticking their snouts into it, straight down the country,
   through fences, through dooryards, in and out of gullies in
   straight lines. They did not run over the ground, but on their
   own roadbeds. They ignored hills and gulches, water
   courses, fences, houses ... The thunder of the cylinders
   sounded through the country, became one with the air and
   earth, so that earth and air muttered in sympathetic vibra-
   tion... And when that crop grew, and was harvested, no
   man had crumbled a hot clod in his fingers and let the earth
   sift past his fingertips. No man had touched the seed, or
   lusted for the growth... The land bore under iron, and under
   iron gradually died; for it was not loved or hated; it had  no
   prayers or curses."
    John Steinbeck
    The Grapes of Wrath  (1939)
  "And the land is changing. It is a slow job. Engineering a
river with large-scale modern machinery and rebuilding soil
that for generations has been losing its vitality are tasks of
a different tempo.  But you can see the differences
everywhere. The gullies are being healed. The scars of ero-
sion are on the mend, slowly but steadily. The many
wounds yet to be healed are by their contrast eloquent
evidence of what the work of restoration has accomplished.
The cover of dark green, the pasture and deep meadow and
upstanding fields of oats and rye, the marks of fertility and
productiveness are on every hand. Matting and sloping,
seeding and sodding, have given protection to eroded banks
on scores of thousands of acres. Ditches to divert water
and little dams to check it, hundreds of thousands of them,
help control the course of water on the land, hold it there
till it can soak down and feed the roots of newly  planted
trees and grasses."

David Lilienthal
TVA        (1944)

Growing  Pains
Silt, Pesticides, and Fertilizers Add Up to Troubled Waters
Water Resources Agency for New castle County, Delaware: Brad Evans
By Merna Hurd
   From the orchards of Virginia
to the dairy lands of
Wisconsin,through the Corn
Belt,  the Wheat Belt, and the
ranches of Texas, and out to the
great vegetable gardens in the
valleys of California, America's
farmers now feed more people
than ever before. Thanks to a
virtual revolution in  agricultural
technology in recent decades,
the United States is able to feed
itself  and still export $25  billion
worth of farm products each
year.  We have become the Saudi
Arabia of grain in a  hungry
   All  the same, the agricultural
revolution has its price. Erosion,
like a silent, almost-invisible army
of bulldozers, scrapes topsoil off
many of our richest farms and
pushes much of it into ponds,
lakes, streams,  and  rivers. This
runoff often carries pesticides,
fertilizers, and animal wastes
which can find their way to
ground and surface waters. The
results have been dramatic.
  At  a cost of one billion dollars,
this country's farms lose four
billion tons of topsoil ever year,
enough dirt to fill a one foot
deep  hole about one and a half
times the size of Delaware.
Natural processes replenish
much of this  topsoil but not
nearly enough and not on a
uniform basis. Even more alarm-
ing, since 1935 agricultural prac-
tices  have so severely damaged
farmland that one hundred
million acres  of land cannot be
cultivated, and over half the top-
soil on yet another hundred
million acres  has been lost. This
is like losing the State of Califor-
nja and declaring Illinois, Iowa,
and Ohio missing in action.
  Furthermore, agriculture
seriously affects water quality in
two-thirds of our river basins and
   Merna Hurd is currently the
 Director of the Water Planning
 Division of EPA's Office of
 Water Planning and Standards in
 Washington, D. C. and is respon-
 sible for administering the Water
 Quality Management Program
1208). A Professional Engineer,
Ms. Hurd previously served as
Administrator of the New Castle
Country Areawide Waste Treat-
ment Management Program in
northern Delaware
provides over half of the Nation's
total man-made sediment load.
The United States pays five hun-
dred million dollars yearly just to
remove sediments (both natural
and man-made) from its water-
ways. We pay still more to clean
up drinking water supplies for
both people and animals. We
lose swimming, fishing, and
other recreational opportunities.
And  in irrigated areas, salt con-
tamination reduces crop yields
on 25 percent of the land, and
ground water quality is degraded
to the point that its  use is greatly
  The problems of erosion and
rural water pollution go unseen
by many farmers. Topsoil ero-
sion, even at an annual rate of
five to ten tons per acre,
removes only a very small layer
of soil each year.  Because of
this, the incentive to take
preventive measures  is often
weak. Productivity may drop
only after a number of years and
may be  masked as the farmer
applies expensive chemical fer-
tilizers and pesticides more and
more heavily. The effects of
these chemicals on water quality
are also hard to see, since they
may  not occur until the
chemicals reach other farms and
cities downstream.
   Many culprits contribute to
our agricultural pollution prob-
lems: excessive tillage (made
easy by today's super-tractors);
careless land management; the
heavy use of chemical fertilizers,
insecticides, and weed killers;
one-crop farms; the pressures of
farm economics; inefficient ir-
rigation; and a growing belief
that  land must be exploited at
full capacity rather than nurtured
for long-term health. Govern-
ment has  been no angel either.
All too often the signals coming
from Washington have been
conflicting or have encouraged
plantings on marginal lands that
should never have been put into
production (so-called fence-to-
fence planting). In some areas,
local laws and policies work
against  efficient water use, as
well  as  clean water.
   American farming has proven
itself one  of this country's great
success stories over the last thir-
ty years. Along with this suc-
cess, however, has  come a loss
of flexibility, a sort of paralysis.
The  farmer's ability  to innovate
and to cope with  changing con-
ditions has diminished.

USDA Soil Conservation Service
      Farm economics, in particular,
    have often forced farmers to cut
    corners and bring marginal lands
    into production just to survive
    Good husbandry  practices have
    sometimes been given up in the
    name of efficiency. Dependence
    on petrochemicals and capital in-
    vestments has grown. Diversified
    farming operations are a thing of
    the past.  And as  fertilizers and
    pesticides have become less ef-
    fective per unit used, the
    response  has generally been
    more chemicals at higher costs
    rather than application of other
    methods and techniques.
      Size may also be a factor. As
    farms grow bigger, good opera-
    tions and maintenance practices
    can become more complicated,
    more time consuming, and more
    costly. To blame  the farmer in
    such  a situation may be unfair.
    The high stakes involved in
    large-scale farming have  lowered
    his willingness and often his
    ability to take risks, no matter
    how promising.
      To cope with the problems it
    creates, agriculture must face
    the task of applying the relatively
    small-scale tools of good farm
    management to large farming
    operations. Contour plowing,
    crop rotation, terracing, no-till
    planting, integrated pest
management, sediment dams,
grassed waterways, barnyard
runoff controls, sprinkler irriga-
tion, reduced water waste —
these are the types of Best
Management Practices (BMPs)
that EPA is promoting within the
farming community in order to
improve water quality and reduce
soil loss.
  Although terminology such as
"Best Management Practices"
and "Integrated Pest Manage-
ment" may be new, the techni-
ques are not. In fact, they in-
volve the management and
husbandry  practices that good
farmers have always used, along
with the innovations of modern
research and development.
These techniques also involve a
genuine concern for the land and
the environment which, though
they may seldom  consider it,
many farmers reflect in their
daily activities.
  At present, through Model Im-
plementation Projects, the
Agricultural Conservation Pro-
gram, and the Rural Clean Water
Program, cost-sharing funds and
technical assistance will be made
available to encourage farmers to
install BMPs. Participation is
totally voluntary, and the early
results have been encouraging.
But if rural pollution continues at
critical levels, stronger measures
may also be needed.
  There are many alternatives:
economic incentives such as
more cost-sharing or tax credits,
economic penalties  such as soil
loss taxes, and  direct controls
such as land use limitations, per-
formance standards, or permits.
Interest has been shown in re-
quiring farms to be  certified as
carrying out approved conserva-
tion plans before they can
become eligible for cost-sharing
money or low-interest loans.
Federal price supports and crop
insurance could also be tied to
  At this time,  EPA believes in
voluntary programs.  Nobody
wants more regulation. All the
same, these options must remain
open. Farm runoff and soil loss
are that serious a  problem.
  Agriculture's  future lies in its
willingness to emphasize farm
health, as well as farm produc-
tion. A partnership must be
worked out among the farmer,
the agriculture industry, and
government which,  in the long-
term, promotes both of these
goals. I list the farmer first
because his understanding, sup-
port, and sweat are the key
elements in the success of such
a partnership.
  Acceptable solutions to our
agricultural pollution problems
either exist today or can be
found. Our stake in the future
lies in our willingness to use
them. EPA will continue to pur-
sue programs for solving these
problems, but water quality con-
cerns must also be given a high
priority by the agriculture com-
munity. Pollution problems do
not just go away. Without this
sector's active support and
determined effort, the stronger
regulatory measures discussed
earlier may unfortunately become

Doing More
With  What We
Spring 1980 Begins New, Intensive Pollution Control Drive
  The start-up of the 1980 Rural
Clean Water Program will give a
$50 million boost this spring to
the control of pollution from
agricultural runoff.
  Congress appropriated the
new funds in November 1979. By
the time fields are thawing in
most  parts of the U.S., the pro-
gram  will be ready to go.
Individual farmers will get cost-
sharing and technical aid from
the Agriculture Department to
carry  out specific farming prac-
tices recommended as most
effective for  pollution control in
their localities. This money is
being  targeted at areas where
significant water quality
problems are being caused by
agricultural nonpoint source
  To  farmers receiving RCWP
funds, this may mean the chance
to reduce soil, pesticide,  and fer-
tilizer  losses  from their fields —as
well as to do something about
cleaning up nearby lakes and
streams. While water quality is
the program's primary purpose,
improvements in long term farm
health and productivity are a
possible by-product that attracts
many  farmers to take part. The
program is totally voluntary.
  Proposed regulations for the
program were scheduled to be
published in  the Federal
 Register on December 21, 1979.
 After a 30-day comment period,
 final regulations were expected
 to be published in February 1980.
 The USDA's Agricultural
 Stabilization and Conservation
 Service will administer the pro-
 gram and distribute funds, while
 the Soil Conservation Service
 will coordinate technical
 assistance in the field. The En-
 vironmental Protection Agency
 will also play a strong role in the
 program —especially in the selec-
 tion of pollution control prac-
 tices, monitoring of water qual-
 ity, and evaluation of the pro-
 gram to ensure that its water
 quality goals are being met.
  The 64 applications from 31
 States submitted in summer 1979
 will be used in selecting project
 areas. In  those project areas
 chosen for funding. Local Coor-
 dinating Committees will inform
 farmers about the program, the
 agricultural runoff problems, the
 need for pollution control  prac-
 tices, and the potential benefits
for both water quality and farm-
 ing  operations. Those farmers
 choosing to participate would
then enter into 3-to 10-year con-
tracts to apply pollution control
 practices  selected specifically for
their farms—in return for repay-
ment  of up to 75 percent of their
costs and customized, expert
technical assistance. The max-
imum a single farmer can receive
would  be $50,000.
   Extensive monitoring and eval-
uation will test the effectiveness
of the  various practices in con-
trolling agricultural runoff and
rural water pollution in selected
projects. Problems addressed will
include not only sediment
eroding from fields, but also fer-
tilizers and  nutrients, pesticides,
animal operations,  and forestry
operations. Through its Water
Quality Management Program,
EPA will help ensure the transfer
of proven technologies to other
suitable areas.
  Congress originally authorized
up to $600 million for the RCWP
under section 208(j) of the 1977
Clean Water Act. Only last fall,
however, did Congress actually
appropriate funds for an "experi-
mental" program to test the
RCWP approach, no longer
directly under 208(j) but consis-
tent with the 208 program. Con-
tinued  funding of RCWP will
probably depend  on the success
of the experimental program.
The viability of a  voluntary pro-
gram and its impact on water
                                                                quality will be key elements in
                                                                judging this success.
                                                                  To be eligible for cost-sharing
                                                                payments, a land owner or
                                                                operator must be in an approved
                                                                project area. Furthermore, the
                                                                land in question must  be con-
                                                                tributing to the area's  agricultural
                                                                nonpoint source pollution prob-
                                                                lems. The farmer must also  have
                                                                an approved water quality plan
                                                                for the farm. These plans will be
                                                                prepared with the assistance of
                                                                the Soil Conservation  Service
                                                                and must be approved by the
                                                                local conservation district.
                                                                  The criteria for establishing
                                                                priorities among individual land-
                                                                owners will be developed by
                                                                RCWP Local and State Coordi-
                                                                nating Committees. The County
                                                                ASC Committee and the Soil
                                                                Conservation District will then
                                                                use these criteria in setting
                                                                priorities to ensure that the most
                                                                critical problems are addressed.
                                                                  Project areas will be selected
                                                                to reflect the agricultural non-
                                                                point source pollution problems
                                                                identified in the Water Quality
                                                                Management (208) planning
  Agricultural  Conservation
  Program  Shares Farmer
  Cleanup Costs
   The Agricultural Conservation
 Program is--a major erosion con-
 trol program administered by
 USDA's Agricultural Stabilization
 and Conservation Service. Some
 312,000 farms nationwide re-
 ceived ACP cost-sharing
 assistance for erosion control
 and other purposes in fiscal
 1978.  In part, however,  this pro-
 gram's goals focus on controlling
 agriculture-related pollution.
   With appropriations of $190
 million in fiscal 1979 and 1980,
 the ACP is the major source of
 federal cost-sharing funds for
 soil and water conservation prac-
 tices.  These funds are allocated
 by a system of State Committees
 (appointed by the Secretary of
Agriculture) and County Com-
mittees (elected by local
farmers). The bulk of ACP cost-
sharing funds are allocated to
individual farmers on a year-by-
year basis.
  In 1979, $4.3 million in ACP
funds were set aside to share the
costs of BMPs in 21 Special
Water Quality Projects.  It  was
recognized that many BMPs can
serve the joint  goals of reduced
soil loss and water quality. ACP
funds are also  being used  for
cost-sharing in the Model
Implementation Program.  A
reserve of other ACP funds is, in
fact, set aside for these and
other water quality purposes.

Underway in  7
  Almost two years ago, the
EPA and USDA jointly initiated
the Model Implementation Pro-
gram (MIP). Seven specific local
watersheds were selected from
more than 50 project applications
to test and demonstrate the
most effective ways to zero  in on
water quality problems related to
  Under the terms of a 1977
agreement signed by Agriculture
Secretary Robert Bergland and
EPA Administrator Douglas
Costle, the MIP program pools
resources from many parts of the
two agencies. Cost-sharing
funds,  technical know-how,
manpower, scientific research,
public information and education
networks,  and existing institu-
tional authorities are all brought
to bear on particular problems.
In the field, on-site assistance is
provided directly to the farmer.
  At the same time, the proto-
type MIP projects have focused
on water quality as related to soil
conservation This emphasis has
been an important change from
other earlier efforts.
  EPA's goal in the program is
to document practical, on-the-
land examples of the  relationship
between Besf Management  Prac-
tices and water quality im-
provements. USDA hopes to
demonstrate that its ongoing
State and  county level programs
can provide an effective delivery
system for pollution control
  Ground  breaking for the MIP
projects began in the spring of
1978, and  the program is
scheduled to run for three years.
The seven individual projects are
located in  Indiana, Nebraska,
New York, Oklahoma, South
Carolina,  South Dakota, and
Washington. Project areas
average about 127,000 acres in
size and are budgeted at approx-
imately $200,000 per year  each in
cost-sharing funds. Total  funding
from all sources is expected to
amount to $25.8 million over 3
   Farmer participation in each
project area is voluntary. Work-
ing through conservation
districts, farm bureaus, and
other local  farm groups, project
workers have approached area
farmers,  explained the program
and its potential benefits,  and
solicited their support and
cooperation. To date, farmer
participation has been  strong.
                                                                                                  Controlling nonpoint source
                                                                                                pollution from agriculture re-
                                                                                                quires a wide variety of
                                                                                                techniques and management
                                                                                                  The following five case
                                                                                                studies indicate some of this
                                                                                                diversity. Three are Model Im-
                                                                                                plementation Projects (MIPs)
                                                                                                conducted as part of a
                                                                                                cooperative effort by EPA and
                                                                                                the U.S Department of
Saving  a  Lake
Called Herman
By Joyce S. Watkins — Adapted
from an article in Soil Conservation
magazine (December 1979).
   "I want to help save the lake,"
 said Irene Tyrrell, a widow
 whose farm lies in the Lake Her-
 man watershed.  Many other
 people in Madison, South
 Dakota feel the same way.
   About 70 families live along
 the shores of the lake, and the
 State 4-H camp and Lake Her-
 man State Park border the rest.
 More than 325,000 people visited
 the park  in 1976 for fishing and
 recreation, but this dwindled to
 173,000 in 1978 as water quality
   A shallow,  natural lake  of
 1,350 acres, Lake Herman suffers
 primarily from sediment loadings
 which enter through four  major
 tributaries. The shallowness of
 the lake also contributes to the
 problem because wind action
 continually stirs up the sediment.
 Most  of these sediments come
 from agricultural  activities.
 Cropland takes up about 75 per-
 cent of the watershed, and
 another 15 percent is used for
 pasture and range.
  A task force was established
to plan the rehabilitation of the
lake when it was chosen as a
site for a MIP in 1978. The Lake
County Conservation District
sponsors it, and many  Federal,
State, and local agencies provide
staff assistance and funding.
  Landowners have been very
cooperative. Through past ef-
forts and through the MIP,
about 75 percent of the drainage
area into the lake was adequately
treated by 1978. Applied prac-
tices included terraces, contour
farming, conservation tillage,
grassed waterways, and conser-
vation cropping systems.
  Chairperson  of the Lake
County Conservation District,
Vern Spartz, said, "I can see a
difference in the lake already.
Maintenance of the practices,
coupled with the sediment reten-
tion dams, should extend  the life
of the lake by many years."
  So far five small dams have
been built. One is on land owned
by Albert Vanhove and will hold
back sediments and other
pollutants while storing water for
livestock. Even though the dam
will cost about $1,000 above the
cost sharing he will receive,
Vanhove  is  proceeding with  the
plan. An avid hunter and fisher-
man, he will gain a pond he can
stock with bass as well as
stockwater and pollution reduc-
  In September 1979, construc-
tion began on two more sedi-
ment dams  designed by USDA's
Soil Conservation Service, and a
third is planned for 1980. Re-
searchers at these sites will test
the effects of various retention
periods on nutrient deposition.
  As conservation practices are
applied in the watershed, an ex-
tensive program is underway to
monitor lake water quality and to
determine the effectiveness of
conservation practices in reduc-
ing erosion. The program covers
the four main tributaries, their
drainage areas,  and in-lake sites.
  Looking to the future, MIP
Coordinator Tim Bjork noted,
"We hope dependable fishing
can be brought  back to the lake,
as well as other recreational
benefits.  We hope the
eutrophication process can be
slowed down. The people in the
community enjoy the lake, and
we are all working together to
save it."

                  rf  „   t „      ^ . —
 USDA Soil Conservation Service
Barnyards and
a Cleaner
By Pat Paul — Adapted from
an article in  Soil Conservation
magazine (October 1979).
   Barnyards in Delaware County,
 New York are drying up —a fact
 which  pleases farmers, helps the
 cows,  cleans up the water, and
 meets  the approval of local
 residents. "The MIP here is a big
 success," says SCS State Con-
 servationist Robert Milliard. "The
 project had specific goals, and
 the farmers had specific prob-
 lems. Through the MIP we met
 both needs."
   Runoff from the area's many
 dairy farms has been finding its
 way to the West Branch of the
 Delaware River, its tributaries,
 and the Cannonsville Reservoir, a
 major source of water for New
 York City. This runoff nourishes
 the growth of algae which gives
 the water offensive tastes and
   Water samples taken in 1977
 showed high levels of phos-
 phorus from four tributaries at
 the upper end of the  watershed.
 According to the USDA study,
 three-quarters of the area's
 barnyards are located within 200
 feet of a stream. MIP efforts are
 subsequently focussed on the
 four tributaries. With farmers
 participating on a voluntary
 basis, cost sharing funds were
 provided for installing  best
 management practices to reduce
 pollution from probably the three
 biggest contributors of phos-
 phorus—barnyard runoff, milk-
 house waste disposal, and
 manure spreading and storage.
   "While many farmers  might
 recognize water quality problems
 associated with barnyard
 runoff," says SCS  District Con-
servationist Richard Lewis, "the
challenge is to convince them of
the need to install effective but
sometimes costly control mea-
sures.  I honestly don't think we
could have persuaded some of
them based on the need to
 improve water quality alone. We
 had to  show them the benefits
to their farm operation.

                                                                                                          •i»Mi I  ^MHBMMM
  "For example, we could have
attacked the problem of control-
ling barnyard runoff in two
ways. One way was to collect
the polluted runoff water as it
left the barnyard and either put it
in a holding pond for later
disposal or direct it to a safe
disposal area. But this method
had no benefit for the farmer.
  "The  method we decided to
use was keeping clean runoff
water out of the barnyard area,
thus drying up the barnyards;
keeping barnyards dry was a
significant selling point in seek-
ing  voluntary participation by
farmers. Solving the water qual-
ity problem was also part of
meeting their needs."
  Allan Weinmann, a West
Branch area farmer, received
MIP cost sharing and technical
assistance for installing a culvert
in the stream on his farm to keep
cows from wading through it
when they headed for pasture.
After the culvert was in, Wein-
mann had his cow's milk tested
at the creamery. The tests
showed less sediment.
  Seeps from springs on the
Don Ackerly farm had made his
barnyard wet and muddy much
of the year. Through the MIP,
the barnyard was graded,
shaped, and graveled. A stone
inlet and tile line were installed
to catch runoff. Ackerly notes
that the drier barnyard has
helped reduce hoof disease in  his
  Conservation measures were
used for other problems as well.
About 43 percent of the water-
shed's cropland is on slopes of 8
percent  or more. Winter
spreading of manure is necessary
for many farmers, but it is dif-
ficult to spread it properly
because of weather conditions.
Though expensive, long-term
storage of manure may be
necessary in some cases, tem-
porary stockpiling during the
                                                                                                 worst weather is usually suffi-
                                                                                                 cient. A new standard and
                                                                                                 specification for diverting water
                                                                                                 away from storage sites through
                                                                                                 regrading  now allows manure
                                                                                                 stockpiling for 60 days or less.
                                                                                                   Additionally, the area's dense
                                                                                                 compact soils are unsuited for
                                                                                                 septic systems and filter fields
                                                                                                 for milkhouse wastes. The MIP
                                                                                                 has provided for the use of filter
                                                                                                 strips and, in severe cases,
                                                                                                 waste treatment lagoons.
                                                                                                   Conservation practices are also
                                                                                                 being used in the watershed to
                                                                                                 reduce erosion. Soil  particles in
                                                                                                 stormwater runoff can carry
                                                                                                 chemicals and nutrients  (in-
                                                                                                 cluding phosphorus) into streams
                                                                                                 and lakes,  "Because we don't
                                                                                                 know yet  if it is the dissolved
                                                                                                 phosphorus or phosphorus at-
                                                                                                 tached to soil particles which is
                                                                                                 causing the eutrophication prob-
                                                                                                 lem in the  Cannonsville Reser-
                                                                                                 voir, we are trying to address
                                                                                                 both problems in  the MIP," says
                                                                                                 Lewis. "Some experts say
                                                                                                 dissolved  phosphorus from
                                                                                                 animal wastes is the more signifi-
                                                                                                 cant of the two in terms of
                                                                                                 water quality."
                                                                                                   The key to the  West Branch
                                                                                                 MIP's success has been in find-
                                                                                                 ing and using practices for con-
                                                                                                 trolling barnyard runoff which
                                                                                                 have direct benefits for the
                                                                                                 farmer, as well as for off-site
                                                                                                 water quality. "Everyone thinks
                                                                                                 we just apply practices," Lewis
                                                                                                 said. "The important questions
                                                                                                 we have to answer are what
                                                                                                 practices are needed, how do we
                                                                                                 get farmers to participate, and
                                                                                                 how do we have  a positive effect
                                                                                                 on both agriculture and water
                                                                                                 quality? We are here because
                                                                                                 this is basically an agricultural
                                                                                                 area.  We  have to help the farmer
                                                                                                 stay in  business while protecting
                                                                                                 soil and water resources."

USDA Soil Conservation Service
   Keeping  Soil
   From Washing
   Down the
   By. F. Dwain Phillips - Adapted
   from an article in  Soil Conservation
   magazine  (October 1979).
  Evaluating the effectiveness of
best management practices in
controlling agricultural runoff
and improving water quality is a
primary function of the MIP pro-
gram. Such an evaluation
requires extensive monitoring.
The Little Washita River MIP,
selected in 1978, provides an
idea of just how much work can
be involved. Easily eroded soils,
highly variable rainfall, and the
resulting  sediment deposited in
streams characterize the Little
Washita River watershed in
south-central  Oklahoma. The
watershed includes parts of three
counties—Grady, Commanche,
and Caddo-  and covers 154,270
acres. Range  and pastureland
cover 75  percent of the area, and
cropland  takes up another 20
  At the  outset of the project,
the Soil Conservation Service
and local conservation districts
inventoried all major land uses
and identified potential factors
affecting water quality. The  SCS
then assessed the nonpoint
source pollution problem in the
watershed and recommended
best management practices.
These include critical area treat-
ment, revegetation, terracing,
conservation tillage, grassed
waterways, animal waste
management systems, deferred
grazing, erosion control struc-
tures, and stream corridor
  To measure how the applied
practices affect water quality,
USDA's Science and Education
Administration (SEA) will use
two major monitoring stations,
one at the end of the Little
Washita and one midway. The
stations will sample total flow,
bedload, suspended solids, and
contamination by pesticides and
  At 24 other sites, SEA will
sample surface water four times
a year to monitor changes in
chemical composition. SEA has
also set up five unit source
watersheds through which  the
amount of sediment washing off
treated areas will be compared to
that washing off untreated areas.
For example, the amount of sedi-
ment washing off a gullied area
that has been shaped and
vegetated will be compared to
the amount washing off an
untreated gullied area with
similar slope, soil type,  and other
relevant characteristics.
  Two detention reservoirs will
be monitored to provide informa-
tion on the effect flood retarding
structures have on water quality.
Additionally,  12 rain gages
throughout the watershed  now
measure the amount and intens-
ity of rainfall, while climatic sta-
tions monitor temperature,
relative humidity, pan evapora-
tion, and the chemical composi-
tion of rainfall.
  At each unit source watershed
there will be a rain  gage to
measure the amount of rainfall
and its nutrient composition.
Lastly, 26 groundwater  wells will
be monitored to check the
chemical  composition of the
water and changes in water table

Colorado Salt
Adapted from an article by Charles
D. Pierce in the  EPA Journal
(July 1977).
   Farmers in western Colorado's
Grand Valley have a bad salinity
problem. Of the 70,000 irrigated
acres in the valley, some 30,000
have been damaged by salinity.
Most of these are now fit only
for low-value uses like pasture,
instead of corn, alfalfa, orchards,
sugar beets, and grain which
other parts of the valley still
   Farmers and other water-users
downstream from the Grand Val-
ley have a problem, too. The
valley adds 800,000 tons of salt
each year to the Colorado
River—about 18 percent of the
total man-made load. Every in-
crease of one part per million in
the salinity of the  river causes an
estimated 5200,000 in economic
damages to the fields of Arizona,
Mexico, and California's Imperial
Valley, as well as to the drinking
water supplies of Los Angeles
and San Diego.
  Some answers to the problem
have come from the Grand
Valley Salinity Agency. With
cooperation by farmers in the
area, researchers from Colorado
State University tested various
methods for controlling the salt.
  The study found that a com-
bination of best management
practices are needed. Some in-
volve more effective scheduling
of irrigation. Others involve lining
irrigation canals and lateral
ditches to reduce seepage. Also
valuable in many cases will be a
switch to sprinkler, drip,  or
trickle irrigation mechanisms in-
stead of furrow irrigation.
  More importantly, the study
yielded detailed information
about the cost-effectiveness of
the  many BMP's considered —in
terms of how many tons of salt
would be kept out of the Col-
orado River per dollar spent.
This information will help local,
State, and Federal agencies
select the best overall strategy
for solving the problem.
  "I  can  still sense the  despair
many families felt as they walked
away from their alkali-covered
farms during the early years of
the Great Depression,"  says
George Bargsten, who  has
farmed the Grand Valley for
most of his life.
  "However, because knowledge
is now available, we can regain
our wasted farm lands.  Whatever
programs and money are needed
to restore these lands and pre-
vent  further land destruction will
be justified. Governmental agen-
cies and university researchers
can make important contribu-
tions to the farmers."
Down the Drain
No More
   Farmers in Twin Falls County,
 Idaho have shown that "best
 management practices" to con-
 trol sediment and other pollu-
 tants in irrigation tailwater can
 have dramatically successful
 results in as little as two years.
   In 1977, a stream called the
 LQ  Drain, which collects runoff
 from irrigated farms in the area,
 was the same color as the sur-
 rounding soil. The water it
 spilled  into the Snake River
 Canyon was thick with sediment
 from eroded topsoil, phosphates,
 and other fertilizers.
   Today, the water runs almost
 clear, and there is 65 to 75 per-
 cent less sediment in the  drain
 even during the peak irrigation
   The  change resulted from a
 project carried out by the Snake
 River Soil Conservation District.
 Funds from the Water Quality
 Management program were a
 catalyst which helped spark
 development of the project.
  "When 21 of the 25 farmers
we contacted decided to take
part in the program the first
year, we were pleased and even
a little  surprised," says project
coordinator Clarence Hedrick.
"We were also happy to find
farmers were already seriously
concerned about the amount of
sediment leaving their fields each
year and the silt-filled water car-
ried into the river. We didn't
have to use much persuasion.
Most of the farmers welcomed a
  To date the project has helped
farmers build 26 large settling
ponds, from which they remove
accumulated topsoil each year
and spread it back onto  the
fields it came from. Other
methods include mini-basins and
"l-slots" at the end of crop rows
and vegetative filter strips at the
edges  of fields.
  The settling ponds on in-
dividual farms are also providing
nesting and feeding areas for
ducks and geese. Forty to fifty
waterfowl at a time have been
seen on one of the ponds. One
farmer now uses ponds in the
canyon at the foot of the LQ
Drain to raise trout year round.
During the irrigation season, the
same farmer must remove the
trout he raises in other ponds
fed by other drains.
   Funds and manpower to carry
out the project  came from a
number of sources: the U.S.
Department of Agriculture, U.S.
Economic Development Agency,
the University of Idaho, and the
Idaho Division of Environment.
   "We know it is possible to
stop all of the sediment leaving
the farms if we have unlimited
revenue," says  project coor-
dinator Hedrick. "But the plus
for this program is that we were
able to do it with the coopera-
tion of farmers  at a cost they
could afford."

 SCS Photo
 Low-Salt Diet
 Prescribed for Irrigation
One-quarter of the U.S. Harvest Depends on Irrigation—But
Saline Pollution has Already Reduced Crop Yields
   Take a trip someday along one
 of the irrigated river valleys of
 the western  United States: the
 San Joaquin and Imperial  Valleys
 in California, the Snake in Idaho,
 the Rio Grande and Pecos
 meandering parallel across New
 Mexico and Texas, or, of course,
 the reclaimed valleys along the
 Colorado River. Traveling these
 valleys, you will find rich acres of
 corn, lettuce, sugar beets,
 potatoes, and other vegetables,
 as well as fruit orchards and
 pastures. Blooming up out of the
 desert and semi-arid lands  like an
 oasis in the Sahara, these crops
all depend on irrigation to pro-
vide them with life. So much life
in fact, that by 1973, approx-
imately one quarter of the total
value of all crop production in
this country was grown on the
12 percent of total harvested
cropland that was  irrigated.
  Almost as old as civilization
itself, irrigation is an agricultural
and economic fact of life. It
accounts for 50 percent of the
total water withdrawn in the
United States and  uses 83 per-
cent of the fresh water consum-
ed.  In the West, where almost
90 percent of the nation's irriga-
tion takes place, agriculture is
the major diverter of water from
streams (74 percent), and uses
the bulk of consumed ground
and surface water supplies (91
percent). All this growth and
consumption, however, has its
price. Mounting evidence in-
dicates that irrigation has serious
environmental consequences
which will intensify in the future
as demands for water continue
to grow.  Solving the problem
will require the cooperation of all
parties involved —irrigators, the
States, and the Federal govern-
  Irrigation often increases salin-
ity (total dissolved solids) in the
streams and rivers which receive
its return flows. Although
sedimentation is a major problem
in several States (e.g.,
Nebraska), increased salinity is
irrigation's most critical effect.
This happens in two ways: salt
loading and salt concentration.

EPA Documerica
  Salt loading merely refers to
the additional amount of salts
picked up by irrigated water as it
runs off from fields on its way
back to surface waters or per-
colates down to the water table.
When this happens, the total salt
load in the overall water system
  Salt concentration occurs
when water escapes to the
atmosphere  as water vapor dur-
ing the irrigation process. About
65 percent of irrigated water is
lost through evaporation and
transpiration (the breathing pro-
cess of plants). The salts from
this lost water are left behind
and either remain in the soil or
find their  way back to the
ground and  surface water
systems in return flows. Because
the total volume of water
decreases while the salt load
stays the  same, salinity jumps
up, sometimes by as much as
300 percent.
  In addition, runoff from
irrigated lands can carry signifi-
cant amounts of pesticides, fer-
tilizers, and sediments. Pesticides
and fertilizers can also find their
way into groundwater if excess
water percolates through soil
containing these substances.
  For the Farmer. The conse-
quences of irrigation can directly
affect a farmer's business and
income by increasing the salinity
of the moisture in the root zone
of his fields. First,  the quality of
available water may deteriorate.
In a typical watershed, every
irrigator consumes a portion of
the diverted water  and then
returns salts to the stream in a
reduced quantity of water. Each
successive downstream user has
water of slightly poorer quality.
As salinity increases, the farmer
will have to stop growing crops
with low salt tolerances such as
celery, beans, lettuce, carrots
and practically all citrus fruits.
Unfortunately, these kinds of
crops also tend to be the higher-
income crops. At a certain point,
the water may even be rendered
useless for irrigation.
   Second, salts can build up in
the soil as the irrigated water
brings them in and leaves them
behind. Again, if salts are
allowed to accumulate, farmers
will have to switch away from
crops with low tolerance to salts.
In time, salt buildups can make
the land worthless for farm pro-
duction, especially if it is poorly
drained. This problem's severity
is reflected in estimates that crop
yields have declined on one-
quarter of the irrigated lands in
the West and that one-half of
such lands are threatened.
Adding more water to the soil
(flood irrigation) is one solution,
but this often results in water-
logged fields or excessively high
water tables. And  in some areas,
more water  may not be available.
   Both of these consequences
can lower farm income. The
farmer may  have to switch to
lower value  crops, but even
before that, the application of
saline water can reduce crop
yields. If the farmer tries to con-
trol root-zone salinity by adding
more water, his water costs may
rise, he may have to install ar-
tificial drains, and both soluble
fertilizer requirements and labor
costs  may shoot up. If adding
more water  results in water-
logged lands or higher water
tables, their control (for example,
with underground  tile drainage
systems) will entail large capital
   For the Municipal and
Industrial User. Degraded
water quality hurts municipal  and
industrial users, as well as
farmers. Estimates made in 1979
indicate that damage to
municipal  water systems may be
even greater than that to
agriculture.  Saline water can
cause scaling in hot-water
heaters, pipes, boilers, and air
conditioners, which significantly
shortens their lives. It can
damage trees, lawns, and home
appliances. And drinking saline
water can pose a  health hazard
for people who must restrict
their sodium intake (for example,
many  individuals with high blood
                                                                                                     Some industries such as the
                                                                                                   pharmaceutical and laundry in-
                                                                                                   dustries are particularly sensitive
                                                                                                   to even low concentrations of
                                                                                                   dissolved elements in the water
                                                                                                   they use. A given community's
                                                                                                   water quality may thus be an im-
                                                                                                   portant factor in an industry's
                                                                                                   decision to locate there.
                                                                                                     Due to pesticides and
                                                                                                   nutrients from irrigation return
                                                                                                   flows,  domestic supplies may
                                                                                                   violate drinking water standards.
                                                                                                   The remedy—a more advanced
                                                                                                   level of treatment—would ob-
                                                                                                   viously mean greater costs.  In
                                                                                                   addition, the nutrients in fer-
                                                                                                   tilizers  can  lead to the
                                                                                                   eutrophication of lakes and reser-
                                                                                                   voirs. Eutrophication lowers the
                                                                                                   amount of  dissolved  oxygen
                                                                                                   available to plant and animal life,
                                                                                                   and under certain conditions can
                                                                                                   result in massive fish kills. Using
                                                                                                   such supplies for drinking water
                                                                                                   could require further cleanup
  The difficulty and exorbitant
cost of capturing and treating ir-
rigation runoff and leachate
makes preventive measures
(known as Best Management
Practices) the common approach
for their control. As conditions
vary from site to site, these
measures will also vary. Never-
theless, most BMPs try to in-
crease irrigation efficiency and
reduce the amount of water ap-
plied to the land. This reduces
the amount of return flow carry-
ing  pollutants to streams and, by
preventing waste, maintains a
larger amount of water in the
streams. Additionally, BMPs can
save farmers  the cost of excess
water. Evidence from the
Minadoka Reclamation Project in
the Snake River Valley, for ex-
ample, has shown that farmers
there could successfully use 3
acre-feet of irrigated water  per
growing season rather than the
typical 14 acre feet.
  As noted, some farmers  use
flood irrigation to flush salts out
of the root zones of their fields.
Reducing water application to
just that needed by the plants
would defeat the farmers intent.
In these cases, tough choices
between agricultual and water
quality goals  may be necessary.
In general, however, the  problem
of controlling irrigation-related
pollution is not what to do  but
rather how to get started.

   Increased demands from
 agriculture, industry, and
 municipalities for a finite and
 often scarce supply of water
 characterize the water manage-
 ment problem in most of the
 western States. Within this
 framework, water quality objec-
 tives are only one factor among
 many. Public management deci-
 sions must recognize the many
 economic and environmental
 trade-offs involved. Where, for
 example, can you  draw the line
 between food production, ample
 drinking water, and fish and
 wildlife protection?
   Before BMPs can be im-
 plemented, the incentive struc-
 tures at work in various State
 water rights laws must be reex-
 amined, both the riparian rights
 systems of the eastern States
 (where there is significant irriga-
 tion in many areas) and the prior
 appropriation systems of the
 West.  For  example, water in the
 West is allocated for beneficial
 uses only on a  "first in time, first
 in right" basis.  Yet only in the
 past few years  have instream
 uses (like allowing water to re-
 main in the stream to reduce
 salinity) been considered as
 beneficial water uses. Further-
 more, farmers who conserve
 water under western water laws
 may find that they cannot
 transfer this water to other lands
 or that it is no longer theirs to
 use. And where instream uses
 are not considered beneficial
 uses, other users (both current
 and new) could  receive rights to
 the "saved" water before it
 would be allowed to remain in
 the stream. Such considerations
 must be resolved if water quality
 goals are to be met.
   Federal projects to develop
 new water  resources such as
 dams and various irrigation
 works are another important
 concern. These projects have
 provided large subsidies to
 farmers in the form of artificially
 cheap water. Such subsidies
 work against incentives to con-
 serve. Additionally, new water
 supplies frequently open up new
 areas for agriculture and other
 forms of development which, in
 turn, may contribute to even
 more pollution.  All too often,
water quality has not really been
a factor in the cost-benefit analy-
                                 ses which influence the decision
                                 to develop water.
   In cooperation with the States
 and the River Basin Commis-
 sions, EPA has prepared a draft
 study (Water Quality/Water Allo-
 cation Coordination Study—
 102(d) Report) which proposes
 several recommendations for
 controlling irrigation-related pol-
 lution. These include suggestions

   • the Federal government
 make new water development
 projects and  renewal of existing
 water contracts conditional upon
 specific levels of irrigation effi-

   • the pricing formula for water
 from Federal projects be revised
 for new projects and renewal of
 existing water contracts so as to
 discourage waste of water;

   • Federal funds be made avail-
 able for buying land and water
 rights for retirement in cases
 where it is impossible to irrigate
 and maintain water quality at the
 same time;

   • the  Rural Clean Water Pro-
 gram receive adequate and long-
 term funding to assist irrigators
 in installing BMPs;

   • the States be encouraged to
 ensure through legal and admin-
 istrative mechanisms that water
 "saved" through  increased effi-
 ciency remain available to meet
 water quality needs;
   • to reduce conflicts in the
 irrigated agriculture area, addi-
 tional Water  Quality Manage-
 ment funds be appropriated to
 assist States  in developing
 systems to integrate water qual-
 ity and quantity decision-making
 at the State level.
  These recommendations are all
tentative and are  now undergo-
ing review nationwide. They are
designed to support the primary
State role in water allocation and
are intended to encourage both
the States and individual ir-
rigators to use water more effi-
  Controlling irrigation-related
pollution will  not be easy. Major
roadblocks lie ahead. Both
Federal and State governments
EPA Documerica Bill Gillette
should reexamine their water
policies,  particularly those relat-
ing to water rights, water
development, and water  uses.
More flexibility  is needed to deal
with the many  demands  on
water supplies and the trade-offs
involved  in meeting them. EPA,
other Federal water agencies,
and the States  must work
together on this, or the results
may be lots of talk, lots of
paper, and little action.
  Much of the  problem occurs in
deciding  who does what  and
when. EPA has no interest in
undermining State rights and
responsibilities in the water allo-
cation area. The work of  the
States, other Federal agencies,
and the farming community
itself, however, must be coor-
dinated with water quality goals.
Here lies EPA's interest. Water
quality goals will not be met in
an atmosphere of conflicting
 policies and programs. Cooper-
 ative arrangements need to be
 worked out.
   Time,  unfortunately, presents
 its own set of problems. Each
 day  brings more people to house
 and  feed. Development gobbles
 up more and more farmland.
 Droughts will continue to
 threaten  food production. And
 farmers face greater pressures to
 produce  more food on less land.
 Working together, these factors
 place mushrooming demands on
 a finite supply of water. The
 longer we delay, the less priority
 water quality will have as a prob-
 lem. Our ability to cope will be
 diminished. Unless we quickly
 remove the procedural hurdles to
 implementation, the goals of
 clean water and adequate food
 production may be unnecessarily
set against one another. And in
such a struggle, everybody loses.

Gas Additive
Principal Practices for
Controlling  Nutrient

Eliminating excessive use of fertilizer

Leaching Control
Timing nitrogen application
Crop rotation
Using animal wastes for fertilizer
Plowing-under green legume crops
Using winter cover crops
Controlling fertilizer release or

Control of  Nutrients in Runoff
Incorporating surface applica-
  tions of fertilizer into the soil
Controlling surface applications
  of fertilizer
Using legumes in haylands and

Control of  Nutrient Loss  by
Timing fertilizer plow-down
Principal Practices for
Controlling Runoff

No-till planting
Conservation tillage
Sod-based rotation
Winter cover crop
Timing of field operations
Plow-plant systems
Contour strip cropping
Grassed outlets
Contour listing
Change in land use
Construction of ponds
USDA Soil Conservation Service
                                                                                USDA Photo
Principal Practices for
Controlling Pesticide
Broadly Applicable
Using alternative pesticides
Optimizing pesticide placement
  with respect to loss
Crop rotation
Pest-resistant crop varieties
Optimizing crop planting time
Optimizing pesticide formulation
Mechanical pest  control methods
Reducing excessive pesticide use
Optimizing time of day for
  pesticide application
Applicable in Limited Cases
Optimizing date of pesticide
Using Integrated  Pest Manage-
  ment programs
Biological pest controls
Reducing pesticide application
Managing serial applications
Planting between rows in
  minimum tillage
USDA Soil Conservation Service
                                        USDA Soil Conservation Service

 Coping With
What Happens
 to the Bug-Killers and
Weed-Killers We Spray
on American Fields ?
  In eastern Arkansas, the
waters of the Cache,
L'Anguille, and White Rivers
exceed federally recom-
mended  safe levels for the
pesticide Toxaphene,
sometimes by as much as
tenfold.  Fish kills have

  In Louisiana, Toxaphene
has contaminated fish from
Lake Providence in levels
which require the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) to
take corrective action.

In the  Great Lakes, the level
of persistent pesticides in
some fish still exceed  FDA ac-
tion  levels, although use of
the pesticides was discon-
tinued more than five years

  How typical are these prob-
lems? How seriously does water
pollution  by pesticides affect
people  in  the United States?  Few
certain  answers are available.
  Nonetheless, extensive
research conducted during the
last 15  years has borne out the
need for serious concern about
pesticides in any comprehensive
approach to water quality
  Thirty-five thousand individual
pesticide products comprised of
over 1400 active ingredients are
currently registered for use in the
United States. Total sales of
these pesticides have averaged
more than one billion pounds per
year since 1970, with more than
half being used for crop protec-
tion. In 1976, 600 million pounds
were used for this purpose,
twice the amount used ten years
earlier. The sheer volume and
growth of pesticide use reflect
the pressure to produce food at
the pace of ever-increasing
worldwide food needs. However,
it also suggests an increasing
potential for environmental harm.
The complex relationships be-
tween food  production and en-
vironmental quality demand that
more attention be paid to pest
management and innovative pest
control methods.

CfOp L^Sse*;-  *?€'•"'':
                                                                The impact of pests on crops
                                                              is enormous, even with the use
                                                              of pesticides. The Department of
                                                                                               Agriculture estimates that U.S.
                                                                                               crop losses to pests totalled
                                                                                               almost $9 billion in 1976. A re-
                                                                                               cent report of the U.S. Office of
                                                                                               Technology Assessment con-
                                                                                               cludes that "the amount of land
                                                                                               now cultivated is 50% greater
                                                                                               than would .be required if there
                                                                                               were no pest-induced losses."
                                                                                               The report further estimates that
                                                                                               if no pesticides were used on
                                                                                               grains and soybeans, food grain
                                                                                               prices would  increase by 60%
                                                                                               and feed grain prices by as much
                                                                                               as 200%.
  Despite all their beneficial ef-
fects, pesticides can also have
an adverse environmental im-
pact. In order to discuss
measures to control this impact,
it is necessary to understand the
ways in which pesticides travel
through the environment.
  Water is the major pathway
through which pesticides get in-
to the environment. Most of the
pesticides in waterways probably
result from storm runoff or
overland flow. They can either
attach themselves to soil par-
ticles or dissolve in the water
itself — but scientists now believe
that most of the pesticides
reaching the water are
transported  with the sediments
that erode and wash from the
  The fact that many  pesticides
are likely to  attach themselves to
soil particles has shaped the pat-
tern of pesticide pollution. For
example, groundwater pollution
by pesticides has been relatively
minor compared to surface water

                                                                     pollution, because the soil traps
                                                                     most pesticides long before they
                                                                     percolate down to an aquifer.
                                                                       The potential for environmen-
                                                                     tal harm of any given pesticide
                                                                     will vary with several properties
                                                                     of the pesticide itself, its toxicity
                                                                     and the degree to which it per-
                                                                     sists in the environment or ac-
                                                                     cumulates in living things. Scien-
                                                                     tists currently believe that the
                                                                     greatest  potential for harmful ef-
                                                                     fects  of pesticides on human
                                                                     health does not come directly
                                                                     from the water pathway but
                                                                     rather from water through the
                                                                     food chain, or from occupational
                                                                       One example  is Daphnia
                                                                     magna, a microscopic relative of
                                                                     the shrimp, which lives in great
                                                                     numbers in many water bodies,
                                                                     and provides a  food source for
                                                                     larger aquatic creatures. In 24
                                                                     hours, Daphnia  can accumulate
                                                                     16-24,000 times the concentra-
                                                                     tion of DDT that exists in  the
                                                                     water around it, with 75 percent
                                                                     of this accumulation occurring
                                                                     during the first  hour. Trace
                                                                     amounts (measured in  parts per
                                                                     billion) of DDT  in water may not
                                                                     be directly harmful to human
                                                                     health. But DDT can be ac-
                                                                     cumulated and  concentrated
                                                                     millions of times as larger
                                                                     creatures feed on smaller ones in
                                                                     the food chain  or web. For ex-
                                                                     ample, concentrations of DDT in
                                                                     Lake Michigan  herring gulls  have
                                                                     been shown to  be almost  50
                                                                     million times  greater than  in the
                                                                     water itself. Thus, accumulation
                                                                     and concentration of persistent
                                                                     pesticides like DDT and others in
                                                                     the chlorinated  hydrocarbon
                                                                     family can  ultimately cause
                                                                     serious harm in fish, waterfowl,
                                                                     and mammal populations.
                                                                     Typically, the large predator fish
                                                                     (salmon, trout,  muskellunge, or
                                                                     pike) most prized by sport
                                                                     fishermen are the first to become
                                                                     unsafe to eat when persistent
                                                                     pesticide contamination occurs.
                                                                      Given the two-sided  nature of
                                                                     the pesticide problem —on the
                                                                     one hand,  pesticides contribute
                                                                     greatly to crop  protection, but
                                                                     on the other  hand, they also
                                                                     contribute  to environmental
                                                                     degradation—what is the best
                                                                     course of action? At least  three
                                                                     measures have  been im-
                                                                     plemented or proposed: Federal
                                                                     regulation, Best Management
                                                                     Practices, and Integrated Pest
  In order to maintain and in-
crease agricultural productivity in
the face of the pest problem, in-
creased reliance has been placed
on chemical pesticides. At the
same time, concern over the en-
vironmental effects of these
pesticides has resulted in a
number of  Congressional efforts
since 1972 to update the Federal
Insecticide, Fungicide, and
Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).  FIFRA,
as most recently amended in
1978, directs EPA to regulate
pesticides in order to protect
against "unreasonable adverse
effects" on humans or the en-
vironment,  requiring a balancing
of risks and benefits to
agriculture, public health,  and
the economy. According to the
law, every pesticide to be
marketed in the United States
must be registered with  EPA,
and the industry must supply
data showing that the pesticide
is safe.  FIFRA also requires
specific labeling instructions on
all pesticides to guard against
problems of misuse.
  EPA's registration and labeling
programs, through FIFRA, are
preventive in nature;  that is, they
act to keep "unsafe" pesticides
from entering the market and
minimize the environmental ef-
fects  of registered pesticides by
controlling their use.  However,
as a 1975 report of the National
Academy of Sciences em-
phasizes, "pollution problems
may result even from uses of a
pesticide that are strictly accord-
ing  to label instructions." The
report adds that "too many
mechanisms exist by which con-
scientiously applied pesticides
can act as a diffuse source of
pollution to guarantee that use
according to directions will be
'safe' in a broad environmental
  While label instructions for ap-
plying a particular pesticide to a
particular crop are based on con-
sideration of its chemical proper-
ties and biological effects,  wise
use by the individual farmer or
applicator is needed to ensure
safety. Best Management Prac-
tices for agricultural nonpoint
source pollution control provide
EPA Documerica: John Messina

 the farmer with further guidance
 based on considerations unique
 to his region, locality, and crop-
 ping  patterns.
   Best Management Practices
 arise out of Water Quality
 Management (or "208") plans
 mandated  by the Clean Water
 Act.  These plans involve Federal,
 State, and local governments.
 The 208 plans can play a signifi-
 cant  role in controlling diffuse
 (or "nonpoint" source) pollution,
 especially that from agricultural
 lands. Because most pesticides
 in the U.S. are used by
 agriculture, 208 plans and Water
 Quality Management programs
 are of direct  economic interest
 not only to the farmer but to the
   Proper selection and applica-
 tion  of a given pesticide for a
 given use is the first line of
 defense against pollution.  Best
 Management Practices are based
 on recognition that sediment
 control is an  important second
 line of defense, especially in
 areas of  heavy pesticide use. In
 general,  land management prac-
 tices  which reduce runoff and
 sedimentation will also reduce
 the amount of pesticides enter-
 ing the water. While agricultural
 pollution control programs
 similar to those discussed in this
 issue are often aimed primarily at
 sediment problems, they may
 also  control pollutants trans-
 ported with the sediment.
 Farmers have an economic in-
terest in keeping pesticides on
the land—where they benefit the
crops —and out of the water-
where they do no good and  may
harm others.
  The degree to which pesticides
from a given field pollute nearby
waters depends on many com-
plex variables. The best com-
bination of farming practices for
pesticide pollution control may
vary  considerably from farm to
farm. Among the variables to be
considered  are the following:

  Land contours—the slope of
a given plot of land influences
the speed of water running off
its surface and the amount of
sediment washed away. The
speed of the flow in waterways
draining the land also influences
the distance sediment travels.

  Intensity and duration of
rainfall —a cloudburst or
gullywasher washes far more
sediment from the land than
 does a slow drizzle. Variations in
 amount and type of rainfall or
 snowmelt from region to region
 and from season to season are
 important considerations in
 determining how and when to
 use pesticides.

   Soil erodibility —not only the
 type of soil, but the degree of
 natural drainage and percolation
 and the tillage practices required
 for a particular crop vary almost
 from field to field. All these fac-
 tors influence the amount of  soil
 that is eroded and the amount of
 pesticides carried with it.

   Time between application
 and rainfall —generally, the
 largest amount of pesticides that
 will  be lost from a field occurs
 with the first major runoff of
 water  from  its surface. The more
 time that passes between ap-
 plication of  the pesticide and the
 first major downpour, the smaller
 the amount of pesticide loss that
 usually occurs. This is especially
 true for short-lived pesticides
 (such  as the carbamate group)
 which may break down before
 they are washed away.

   Placement of pesticide —
 whether a pesticide is sprayed on
 the plants themselves, applied to
 the surface of the soil, or even
 mixed  with soil beneath the sur-
 face will help determine how
 much  of the pesticide eventually
 runs off. Also critical is the prox-
 imity of pesticide application areas
 to a waterway and the amount
 of vegetation left at the edge of
 the field to filter out sediment.
  These and other factors —  all
 external to the chemical proper-
 ties of the pesticide itself — af-
 fect  its potential for water pollu-
 tion. They must be accounted
 for in any remedy to solve prob-
 lems of pollution from pesticides.
  A third possibility for solving
the pollution problem is to look
beyond using pesticides alone as
the means for protecting  crops.
In fact,  the use of chemical
pesticides has reached limits in
effectiveness. Pests have
developed a resistance to widely-
used pesticides and continue to
destroy large numbers of crops.
Most chemical pesticides  are
petroleum based, and as the
 prices of other oil products have
 skyrocketed, so have the prices
 of these pesticides. Because of
 these factors, as well as the
 recognized environmental risks,
 EPA and farmers have begun to
 look at other methods and prac-
 tices of pest control.
   Much of this effort has focus-
 ed on integrated pest manage-
 ment (IPM).  According to the
 Office of Technology Assess-
 ment, "IPM programs for major
 U.S. crops can reduce pesticide
 use up to 75 percent, reduce
 preharvest pest-caused losses by
 50 percent, and reduce total pest
 control costs by a significant
   Integrated pest management is
 a "comprehensive approach to
 the  use of various control
 methods that takes into account
 the  role of all kinds of pests in
 their environment, possible inter-
 relationships among pests, and
 other factors."
   IPM relies heavily on natural
 pest population controls, in-
 cluding cultural methods, pest-
 specific diseases, resistant crop
 varieties, sterile insects, attrac-
 tants, augmentation of parasites
 or predators, or chemical
 pesticides as needed.
   The benefits of an IPM pro-
 gram can be substantial. Suc-
 cessful programs have reduced
 pesticide use, increased crop
 yields, and reduced costs. In
 Texas, according to the Office of
 Technology Assessment report,
 dramatic advances have been
 made with some IPM methods
 on cotton crops. A reduction in
 annual insecticide use of over 17
 million pounds  was achieved
 during the 12-year period ending
 in 1976. During this time, harvest
 yields remained relatively cons-
 tant. This was accomplished
 largely with the use of shorter
 season cotton varieties and
 carefully planned insecticide ap-
 plications.  It should be stressed
 that an IPM program does not
 eliminate the  use of pesticides
 altogether. Rather, it is aimed at
 wise and more efficient use of
 pesticides along with other con-
 trol methods.
   There are difficulties
 associated with implementing an
 Integrated Pest Management
 System. One  problem is that the
farmer needs  much more infor-
 mation to use IPM methods than
that  required for use of chemical
pesticides.  For example, in order
to maximize the use of natural
controls and to select techniques
that are cost-effective, the
farmer needs information on:

   • dynamics of pest popula-

   • life history of the pest

   • the pest's natural enemies
and nutritional requirements

   • host plants

   • impact on other parts of the
environment of chemicals and
organisms used  to control pests

   • impact of production prac-
tices such as crop rotation,
tillage, timing of harvesting and
irrigation, and pesticide use on
pest probleYns

   • ability of pests to resist con-
trol techniques,  especially

   • level of pests a crop can
tolerate without causing
economic harm.

Compounding the problem is the
fact that there are still ap-
preciable gaps in the information
  To meet some of these infor-
mation needs, the U.S.  Depart-
ment of Agriculture and EPA
have funded continuing  research
efforts over the last few years.
To this end, EPA's Office of
Research and Development has
recently announced the award of
a five-year contract (annual
budget of $3 million) to develop
new strategies to control pests
that damage the major crops of
cotton, soybeans,  apples, and
alfalfa. These research efforts
will begin to provide the informa-
tion needed to run full-scale IPM
programs. In the mean time,
however,  smaller scale IPM pro-
grams are being implemented

EPA Documenca  Charles O'Rear
  the Farms
  Through a Growing
  Partnership, Farmers and
  Government  are Controlling
  Rural Water Pollution
   By Dr. M. Rupert Cutler

     America's farmers and ranch-
   ers can produce more and more
   food and fiber, with less and less
   "pointless pollution."
     An encouraging partnership is
   emerging among landowners and
   their local soil and water conser-
   vation districts; eight agencies of
   the U.S. Department of Agricul-
   ture; the U.S. Environmental
   Protection Agency; and State
   and areawide water quality agen-
     Their ultimate success in safe-
   guarding water quality  and
   assuring a sustained, "perman-
   ent" agriculture will depend on
   three major efforts. We must
   continue to strengthen com-
   munication, cooperation, and
   understanding among  these
   groups. We need to continue
   refining the technology for
   agriculture and pollution abate-.
   ment and evaluation. We should
   strengthen information, incen-
   tives, and assistance programs to
 aid farmers and ranchers who
 want to maintain the natural
 resources on which they- and all
 of us —depend.
   Controlling nonpoint source
 water pollution is not new to
 most farmers, ranchers, and
 foresters. They know that when
 soil, fertilizers, pesticides,  and
 animal wastes are allowed to
 wash into streams and  lakes,
 water quality and land produc-
 tivity are lowered. They have
 been working for almost 50 years
 through conservation districts
 and USDA to protect the soil
 and water base. They know that
 soil and water conservation prac-
 tices, singly or in combination,
 help keep water where  it falls
 and keep soil,  plant residues and
 animal wastes in place.
   They have applied that knowl-
 edge successfully on millions of
 acres with stripcropping, grassed
 waterways, contour plowing,
 conservation tillage, animal
 waste systems, and the  like.
   These conservation practices
 are "best management
 practices." Still others can be
 adapted to better aid water qual-
 ity where the planning and
 technology requirements are
 sometimes higher than for soil.
  Agriculture still is the most
wide-spread cause of nonpoint
source pollution. Sediment from
     M. Rupert Cutler has been the
  Assistant Secretary of
  Agriculture for Natural Resources
  and Environment since April
   1977. Until receiving his USDA
  appointment, he served as Assis-
  tant Professor of Resource
  Development and Extension
Specialist in Natural Resources
Policy at Michigan State Univer-
sity. Dr. Cutler also has a wide
background in wildlife manage-
ment and is a former Managing
Editor of National Wildlife
soil erosion is deposited in lakes
and waterways. Sediment par-
ticles may carry harmful
chemicals such as phosphates
and pesticides. Nitrates and
phosphates from fertilizers also
may wash off the land into
streams and lakes, stimulating
growth of algae and creating
other undesirable effects.  Animal
wastes left on the ground may
also contaminate surface and
ground water Agricultural runoff
is a problem in 68 percent of
America's 246 hydrologic basins.
  Over the past several years,
USDA has assigned dozens of
Soil Conservation Service (SCSI
professionals to State and
areawide agencies as well as to
EPA national and regional of-
fices. SCS has contributed more
than 370 staff years to Section
208 efforts in the past two years.
Since 1972, EPA and the Na-
tional Association of Conserva-
tion Districts have worked to
foster close relationships be-
tween conservation  districts and
water quality planning officials
and to keep local, State, and
Federal conservation and water
quality officials attuned  to the
latest water quality information.
  USDA and EPA are cooperat-
ing in three demonstration proj-
ects in the Great Lakes  area,
under Section 108 of the Clean
Water Act. All these are testing
approaches, methods and techni-
ques for eliminating or control-
ling pollution in watershed areas.
Two are in agricultural areas and
the other is urban.  Information
obtained already has been useful
in an international study of the
impacts of land uses on Great
Lakes water quality.
  In fiscal year 1978, USDA and
EPA  began a "Model Implemen-
tation Program" in seven project
areas The Agricultural Stabiliza-
tion and Conservation Service
(ASCS) allotted $1.5 million for
cost-sharing assistance to par-
ticipating landowners  SCS is
providing accelerated technical
assistance worth nearly the same
amount. The U.S.  Forest Service
provided $770,000 through State
forestry agencies. Other  USDA
agencies also have accelerated
their programs. EPA has pro-
vided nearly $1.5 million  in fund-
ing support through its Water
Quality Management, Clean
Lakes, and Research and
Development Programs.
  USDA and EPA also have
agreed to further expand joint
programs to improve water qual-
ity research, monitoring and
evaluation, and program delivery
Secretary Bergland and EPA Ad-
ministrator Costle met on Oc-
tober 31 to discuss issues and
  In  fiscal year 1979, USDA
authorized 21 special water qual-
ity projects with ASCS cost-
sharing, SCS technical aid, and
EPA monitoring.
  SCS and local  groups  are
cooperating  in hundreds of small
watershed projects for flood
prevention and resource  protec-
tion. In two  newer projects —in
Alabama and Vermont—the em-
phasis is on  achieving watershed
aims using conservation  land
treatment alone rather than in
combination with dams and
other structures.  The object is to
closely monitor the effects of the
work  not only on land protected
but also on water pollution
  Finally, USDA  appropriations
for fiscal year 1980 include $50
million for an experimental Rural
Clean Water Program with
ASCS leadership. The aim is to
help  meet  national water quality
goals through  long-term  con-

  tracts with rural landowners for
  installing best management prac-
  tices. The focus is on targeted
  spots within areas or States
  where agricultural nonpomt
  source problems are identified
  and significant. The emphasis is
  on  voluntary participation, which
  I  think will be a key ingredient to
  success in water quality as well
  as soil and water conservation.
    There is no quick cure-all for
  nonpoint source water pollution
  from agriculture. The work will
  continue to be a major undertak-
  ing. It also will have to be dove-
  tailed carefully into other pro-
  grams and objectives.
    USDA is working with
  farmers,  ranchers, and foresters
  to sustain and reinforce their
  respect and action not only for
  land and water but also for
  range and forests, wetlands, fish
  and wildlife habitat, and sources
  of energy. All are part of the life-
  giving complex that surrounds us
  and on which our existence
    For example, there are tremen-
  dous opportunities to develop
  alternate forms of energy in
  farming —solar energy; wind and
  water power; and the use of
  wood, crop, and forest residues
  and animal wastes for producing
  energy.  These techniques can be
  a boon for water quality as well
  as energy supply, provided we
  do not produce that energy at
  the expense of land and water
    Conservation tillage, if used on
  70 percent of our tilled cropland,
  would result in a net energy sav-
  ing of 135 million gallons of fuel.
  It also could significantly reduce
  soil erosion. Drainage will  be
EPA Documenca. John Messina
needed to effectively use this
practice in some areas.
   Use of nonchemical ap-
proaches for controlling animal
and plant pests —biological,
cultural, genetic and chemical
methods used as part of in-
tegrated pest management —
also can reduce environmental
and human  hazards in farming. It
can reduce the reliance on
chemical pesticides that take a
lot of energy to produce and
transport, a lot of care to apply,
and a lot of trouble to remove
from water systems.
   The President's environmental
message to  Congress last year
pledged sensitivity to energy
needs and environmental con-
siderations.  USDA agencies  have
this same sensitivity in mind as
they work to aid soil and water
quality in agriculture.
Water quality is one of the seven
major "potential problem areas"
being addressed in a massive
self-examination of  more than 30
USDA conservation programs.
This study was called  for in the
Soil and Water Resources Con-
servation Act of 1977  (RCA).
With extensive  participation by
the public and by other agencies
and groups, USDA  is  appraising
the status, condition,  and trends
of America's natural resources
on private lands. The  draft ap-
praisal documents will be out for
public review this winter along
with a number of alternative pro-
gram strategies now being
discussed  for making  USDA con-
servation programs more respon-
sive to the long-term needs of
the Nation. The programs in-
clude those that aid water qual-
  The social, environmental, and
economic impacts and tradeoffs
of each alternative will be
presented along with the ideas,
to aid the public and the agen-
cies in comparing and
  Our discussions about water
quality in RCA  have centered on
setting recommended USDA ob-
jectives for controlling sediment,
toxic substances, nutrients,
dissolved solids, and organic
waste. In ranking the most
critical areas, we also have con-
sidered factors  such as popula-
tion impacts, areas with existing
pollution problems, costs of
treatment, and  relative impor-
tance or significance of each
  The central questions in RCA
related to water quality and to all
the other components are:

  — How much of the problem
do we want to  solve?

  — What is the right mix of pro-
grams to achieve our goal?

  Two basic sets of themes or
alternative strategies have been
studied. They contain two basic
ways to change the amount of
soil and water conservation ap-
plied by private individuals.
  One, change the incentives.
This set includes actions
which might:
  — Call more attention to ex-
isting rewards from conserva-

  — Increase the rewards for
conserving, by  giving preference
in other programs to those who
have achieved conservation goals
(some call this the "green ticket"

  — Provide more cost-sharing,
tax  incentives, and/or other
 forms of recognition.

   — Increase the burdens for fail-
 ing to conserve, by requiring
 minimum conservation achieve-
 ment for participation in other

   — Provide more  regulation.

   Two, change the organiza-
 tions. Alternative actions
 under study could:

   — Fine-tune the  existing pro-

   — Overhaul the program
 evaluation process at the Federal

   — Provide for joint State-
 Federal development of pro-

   — Focus on development of
 multicounty projects carefully
 selected and targeted by  local
   Because the study is still in
 progress, no decisions  have been
 made on these alternatives.
   Whatever changes may result,
 the existing USDA programs and
 their cooperators have  con-
 siderable experience and exper-
 tise in influencing soil and water
 conservation —in aiding water
 quality—through education,
 research, technical assistance
 and cost-sharing. They have
 given the Nation a  commendable
 record. The strategies or com-
 binations chosen to meet future
 challenges will build on this
   Stated another way,  there is
 more we can do with what we
 have. I am confident that the
 partnership that already exists
can do an increasingly better job
in  helping private citizens and
public agencies improve water

A Voice for the Farmer,
An Ally for Clean Water

By James E. Lake,
  The improvement of water
quality has been an integral part
of the mission of conservation
districts since their inception.
The philosophy expressed by
Hugh Hammond Bennett (first
Administrator of the Soil Conser-
vation Service) to a Congres-
sional Committee in 1945 re-
mains a basic tenet of conserva-
tion districts: "The only way in
which water pollution due to
erosion silt can be effectively
controlled is by the adoption of
soil and water conservation prac-
tices applied in accordance with
the needs and capabilities of the
  Today, it is estimated that
nearly half of the billions of
tons of sediment reaching our
nation's streams and lakes each
year comes from agricultural
land. Another 10 percent comes
from range and forest lands,
with 10 percent from eroding
roadsides, construction activities,
surface mined lands, and other
disturbed areas. The remaining
30 percent results from
geological erosion —natural
forces at work on land relatively
undisturbed by man. It is the 70
percent of erosion attributable to
man-made causes, much of
which carries other pollutants to
the water, that can be reduced
or prevented through the ap-
plication of conservation prac-
tices to the land. The goal of
conservation districts for forty
years has been to keep soil on
the land—where it is a produc-
tive resource—and out of the
water—where it is often a pollu-
tant or a  costly nuisance.
  With this background and
philosophy, it is only natural  that
conservation districts have
become part of the nation's
assault on water pollution  prob-
lems. This assault grew out of
the environmental concerns of
the early 1970s, especially the
Clean Water Act. There were dif-
ferences, to be sure, between
 the district philosophy and the
 new Federal effort. District pro-
 grams had long been character-
 ized by a voluntary approach.
 Most district officials felt that
 this approach was not only
 valuable, but essential for gain-
 ing the cooperation of private
 land users.
   Much of the Clean Water Act
 approach, however, was based
 on regulatory methods, which
 seriously concerned district offi-
 cials. They feared that there
 could be widespread rejection of
 regulation on the part of farmers
 and ranchers. This would in-
 troduce added costs, fail to  meet
 water quality goals, and threaten
 many of the gains that had been
 painstakingly achieved over the
 40 years of the soil conservation
 movement. After much debate
 and discussion, districts chose to
 take an active role in the new
 pollution control efforts.  By  so
 doing, they brought the conser-
 vation district's voluntary
 approach to bear on the problem
 of nonpoint pollution control.
 This has resulted, since 1972, in
 ever-increasing coordination
 efforts between conservation
 district programs and  Federal
 water pollution control
   With the issuance of EPA
 guidelines and regulations,
 Water Quality Management plan-
 ning began under section 208 of
 the Clean Water Act. The early
 efforts were concentrated on
 areawide plans, usually involving
 metropolitan  areas. Statewide
 efforts followed, with  additional
 emphasis on the nonpoint pollu-
 tant problems by agriculture and
 forestry. The statewide efforts
 have only recently begun to  pro-
 duce plans, which must be
 approved by EPA before they are
 deemed to meet the
 requirements of section 208.
   Regional and State-level plan-
 ning is central to Water Quality
 Management. Section 208
 sought to establish a continuing
 planning process, updated
 annually, to meet current prob-
 lems. It called for the manage-
 ment of nonpoint sources of
 pollution by appropriate
 methods. As  State plans began
to take shape, it became clear
that local-level participation
would play a  major role in the ef-
fort. It also became clear that
conservation district programs
were in many cases precisely the
local mechanisms needed to con-
trol nonpoint pollution.
  In response to the need for
more information on the relation-
ship between these programs,
the National Association of Con-
servation Districts, under a grant
from EPA, prepared a publication
entitled Conservation Districts
and 208 Water Quality Manage-
ment,  It  contains an extensive
description of conservation dis-
trict capabilities and the possible
areas and methods for districts to
participate in section 208 planning
with respect to the water quality
planning  elements required by
EPA regulations.
  Conservation districts were
found  to be able to play a major
role with respect to five planning
elements: identifying and assess-
ing nonpoint source pollution;
specifying control needs for non-
point source pollution (Best
Management Practices); recom-
mending target abatement dates;
identifying alternative structures
for programs designed to control
nonpoint source pollution (volun-
tary, regulatory, or possible com-
binations); and  recommending
designation of the management
agencies that would implement
nonpoint source control plans.
As  a result, conservation  districts
or State soil conservation agen-
cies in  40 states have entered
into formal agreements with
State planning agencies to
develop certain elements of the
208 water quality plans.
  Conservation districts have
developed their knowledge and
expertise in these areas over the
past 40 years. During this time,
they have been responsible
under State law for developing
and carrying out programs that
would  protect soil and water
resources. They have been work-
ing with land owners and land
users to adopt and implement
practices to reduce soil erosion
and protect downstream waters
from siltation. Over the years,
conservation districts have
received technical assistance
from the U.S. Soil Conservation
Service (SCSI to  assist them in
carrying out these programs.
  Using their experience and in-
formation as well as their direct
knowledge of current conditions
in a given locale, conservation
districts and State soil conserva-
tion agencies have successfully
completed the agricultural non-
point portions of 208 water qual-
ity plans in many States. These
nonpoint source plans include an
assessment of both the amount
and extent of nonpoint prob-
lems; an identification  of the
critical areas and/or sources of
the nonpoint problems; recom-
mended Best Management Prac-
tices to solve these problems;
and an estimate of the cost of
implementing the program.
   As a result of conservation
district involvement in  the plan-
ning process and recognition by
the State planning agencies of
their knowledge and expertise in
these areas, conservation dis-
tricts have been designated in
most State 208 plans as the
management agency or agencies
for implementing the rural non-
point source control portion of
the plan. This designation occur-
red because planning agencies
have recognized the important
link between conservation
districts and private land owners
and land users, a link which is
essential if we hope to be able to
reduce nonpoint source pollu-
tion. As such, conservation
districts are the key local agency
for involving rural land owners
and concerned  citizens.
   In addition, districts  have
perfected working arrangements
which allow integration of
Federal, State,  and local govern-
mental agency efforts.  Through
this cooperation, conservation
districts also have the technical
expertise to assist land owners in
making decisions about nonpoint
source pollution control on their
  With the technical assistance
of SCS, districts are able to help
land owners develop site-specific
plans outlining Best Manage-
ment Practices (BMPs) to correct
water quality prblems.  These
site-specific plans are developed
through a direct relationship be-
tween the district representative
and the land user. They are
developed according to the
needs and capabilities of the land
and water,  as well as the desires
of the land users. Many long-
familiar conservation practices
for agricultural lands — such  as
grassed waterways, terraces,
erosion control structures, no till,
minimum tillage, pasture land
management, and others — also

  become Best Management Prac-
  tices when they are identified as
  the best known means of control
  of agricultural nonpoint water
  quality problems addressed in a
  208 plan.
    Until recently, however, the
  208 program still lacked a means
  of implementing the plans that
  were being developed. The man-
  dated application of all practices
  necessary to control erosion was
  precluded as a practical alter-
  native  due to the economic
  dislocations in agriculture and
  forestry that might  have  resulted.
  Conservation districts, with their
  voluntary approach, could not
  have been expected to gain ade-
  quate cooperation if land users
  were not offered some form of
  economic incentive  to offset the
  costs of pollution control.
    This led to the 1977 enactment
  of a new subsection (j) to sec-
  tion 208 of the Clean Water Act.
  This subsection established a
  program known as  the Rural
  Clean Water Program (RCWP),
  which  authorizes the Secretary
  of Agriculture to enter into five-
  to ten-year contracts with private
  land users to provide technical
  assistance and cost-sharing for
  the installation of BMPs for
  preventing nonpoint pollution on
  rural lands.  Conservation districts
  are cited in section  208(j), and
  given responsibilities to help set
  local priorities for assistance
  under the program, as well as to
  assist with the administration of
  part or all of the program if the
USDA Photo
 Secretary of Agriculture so
 designates. In addition, all con-
 tracts with land users under
 RCWP are to be based on a plan
 approved by a conservation
 district. However, the language
 in the FY 80 appropriations bill
 funding the program specifies
 that the primary responsibility foi
 these matters will be exercised
 by the Agricultural Stabilization
 and Conservation Service and its
 State and County Committees.
   The development of the Rural
 Clean Water Program has
 resulted in concentration on
 high-priority areas identified in
 the the 208 planning process. It
 is a voluntary program, similar in
 many respects to earlier cost-
 sharing efforts based on long-
 term  contracts, such as the
 Great Plains Conservation Pro-
 gram administered by SCS.
   No  projects have been started
 under RCWP, however, due to
 the lack of funds. No money was
 appropriated in FY 1979. Fifty
 million dollars has recently been
 approved for FY 1980 for an ex-
 perimental Rural Clean Water
 Program, which should be
 operational by spring of 1980.
 The experimental Rural Clean
 Water Program is based on the
 philosophy that the best way to
 improve water quality is to install
 and maintain Best Management
 Practices on the land.
  In fulfilling their role in the ex-
perimental Rural Clean Water
Program, conservation districts
and the agencies that assist
them face difficult challenges
and need to make changes in
their respective organizations. To
meet these challenges, districts
are reassessing their priorities.
The days of the "first-come-first-
serve" approach for assistance
are numbered. Setting priorities,
and providing individual
assistance in planning and ap-
plication are responsibilities of
the conservation districts. Not
only is this an important aspect
of 208 planning, but of ongoing
district programs as well. The
Soil Conservation Service has
agreed to provide technical
assistance according to priorities
set by local officials. This means
that technical assistance will  be
available to land owners and  land
users on a "worst-first" basis. It
will mean that the  Soil Conserva-
tion Service, and other district
cooperating agencies such as the
Cooperative Extension Service,
must concentrate on working
with less progressive users, who
usually have greater problems
but are hesitant to request
assistance. This approach means
that programs will first be im-
plemented in critical areas in
order to produce the greatest
and most immediate impact on
water quality. It will also mean a
return to travelling door-to-door
within the critical areas and "sell-
 ing" the land owner or land user
 on the use of Best Management
 Practices. In evaluating the
 BMPs needed, conservation
 districts and their representatives
 are not only looking at sediment
 control but  also at practices that
 help prevent nutrients,
 pesticides, animal wastes, and
 other pollutants from entering
 our waters.
   As Water Quality Management
 agencies, conservation districts
 are logically involved in surface-
 mined land reclamation, Coastal
 Zone Management, solid waste
 disposal, and many other pro-
 grams of national concern.
 Because of their  unique relation-
 ships at the local, State, and
 Federal level they are the logical
 coordinators for nonpoint source
 water quality management  pro-
 grams. Conservation districts are
 anxiously accepting these new
 responsibilities in water quality
 management. In addition, State
 Water Quality Management
 agencies and the Environmental
 Protection Agency have
 recognized that in order to  meet
 the goals of the Clean Water
 Act, it is essential to reduce non-
 point sources of pollution and
 that the Nation's 2,950 conserva-
 tion districts are a vital link  in
 achieving these goals.
  James E.  Lake is a Water
Quality Program Specialist with
the National Association of Con-
servation Districts. Prior to join-
ing NACD, Mr. Lake was district
manager of the Allen County
Soil and Water Conservation
District in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
While there, he directed the
Black Creek Study, one of the
first and largest voluntary cost-
sharing projects for
demonstrating the application of
conservation practices for ero-
sion control and water quality

EPA Documenc



1    Source Strategy

       The Nation's clean water pro-
    gram faces a crunch.
       The Clean Water Act directs
    the Environmental Protection
    Agency to seek fishable, swim-
    mable waters nationwide by
    1983. Yet EPA, by itself, will  not
    be able to eliminate  the Nation's
    single largest pollution source
    (by volume) —agricultural  runoff.
       This problem can  be ade-
    quately contained if  local, State,
    and  Federal agencies act
    together to deal with it. EPA's
    strategy is to make the best use
    of its funding and manpower
    resources within this common
       EPA does not presently have
    authority to directly  regulate
    nonpoint sources of agricultural
    pollution.  Other Federal, State,
    and local agencies do have this
       Along with individual land-
    owners and farmers,  many State
    and local governments have
    already acted to keep their top-
    soil on their own producing
    farms and out of their neighbors'
    streams. Other States and
    localities have yet to act.
       The U.S. Department of
    Agriculture, recognizing and
    working to solve the problem,
    has acted under its own
    authorities to protect the
    Nation's soil and water
    resources. Other  Federal agen-
    cies are also involved —or  could
    be involved.
      There is much that EPA can
    do as well. For example, the
    Agency regulates the registration
    and labelling of pesticides and
    the licensing of pesticide
    applicators. The Agency
    administers the permitting pro-
    cess  (NPDES) for controlling
    feedlot discharges. EPA's Office
    of Research and Development
    has contributed significantly to
    the Nation's understanding of
    agricultural pollution  problems
    and the methods for controlling
      EPA is also legally responsible
    for ensuring that State and
    areawide Water Quality Manage-
                                                                                                ment plans include feasible and
                                                                                                effective measures for
                                                                                                eliminating agricultural pollution.
                                                                                                Not only must EPA approve the
                                                                                                plans, but EPA can fund the
                                                                                                planning work itself.
                                                                                                  At present, we do not know
                                                                                                enough about agricultural pollu-
                                                                                                tion problems to be sure of the
                                                                                                best solution in every locality.
                                                                                                Statewide WQM plans are meant
                                                                                                to define these problems and
                                                                                                outline the best solutions—and
                                                                                                they are thus a vital first step.
                                                                                                  Many States' plans have
                                                                                                already identified these problems
                                                                                                and developed control programs.
                                                                                                Other States have yet to com-
                                                                                                plete this task. While programs
                                                                                                to carry out Best Management
                                                                                                Practices should go forward in
                                                                                                these cases, there is still a need
                                                                                                to continue evaluating their
                                                                                                  Since EPA funding resources
                                                                                                are limited, it is not feasible for
                                                                                                EPA to fund work on every
                                                                                                problem in every State.
                                                                                                Therefore, EPA has developed
                                                                                                this "Agriculture Nonpoint
                                                                                                Source Strategy" to focus its
                                                                                                resources on solving the most
                                                                                                significant problems in those
                                                                                                areas where water quality is
                                                                                                affected most adversely.  Infor-
                                                                                                mation from those projects
                                                                                                funded will be widely
                                                                                                disseminated to areas with
                                                                                                similar problems.
                                                                                                  The "Agriculture Nonpoint
                                                                                                Source Strategy" has five main

                                                                                                  1. Complete the development
                                                                                                of State agricultural NPS plans.

                                                                                                  2. Develop a comprehensive
                                                                                                monitoring and evaluation pro-

                                                                                                  3. Expedite the implementation
                                                                                                of agricultural NPS control pro-

                                                                                                  4. Develop a Management In-
                                                                                                formation System for evaluating
                                                                                                the effectiveness of agricultural
                                                                                                NPS control programs.

                                                                                                  5. Conduct analysis of policy
                                                                                                issues required to provide a basis
                                                                                                for a long-range EPA agricultural

                                                                                                  This strategy will guide EPA in
                                                                                                the allotment of grant funding
                                                                                                and manpower resources under
                                                                                                section 208 of the Clean Water
                                                                                                Act. What follows is a highlight
                                                                                                summary of that strategy. The

complete text has been pub-
lished and is available from EPA.

Objective 1: Complete the
development of State
agricultural  plans:

  • Identify and prioritize areas
with critical agricultural NPS
water quality problems.

  • Select BMP's appropriate for
the pollutant  problem.

  • Designate management
agencies with adequate
authorities and  capabilities to
solve the problem.

  • Develop operational pro-

  EPA may provide Continuing
Planning Process (CPP) funding
to selected States under section
208. Generally,  where the
agricultural nonpoint source por-
tions of State WQM plans are
complete, adequate, and ap-
proved by EPA, no further plan-
ning funds will be provided.
Plans are considered adequate  if
they accomplish the four parts  of
this objective.
  Where these plans are in-
complete, inadequate, or not yet
approved, further planning funds
may be available under certain
conditions. Funding will be
limited to States that have iden-
tified agricultural activities as
contributing significantly to the
State's water quality problems.
Where warranted, further fund-
ing must be commensurate with
an established need for
additional identification of water
quality problems and solutions
and further designations or
changes in area priorities. Fur-
thermore, the planning and
management agencies involved
must clearly demonstrate an
interest in implementing non-
point source control programs.
  Funding priority will be given
to activities addressing pollutants
other than sediment (for exam-
ple, pesticides and nutrients),
where preliminary data indicate a
strong  probability that these may
be a problem. Activities address-
ing the development of
regulatory programs, where
needed, will also have funding
  Other eligible activities may
include development of State
funding for the operational pro-
grams of designated manage-
ment agencies and for
administrative or legislative
actions to accelerate implemen-

Objective 2: Develop a com-
prehensive monitoring and
evaluation program to:

  • Determine more exactly the
cause-and-effect relationships
which link agricultural activities,
NPS pollutants, and stream

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of
BMP's in improving stream qual-

  • Determine the degree of
control necessary to meet water.
quality goals.

  Much is known about the
general stream quality effects of
agricultural NPS pollution and
the best ways to control it
(BMP's). Nonetheless, the most
cost-effective national control
strategy will adapt BMP's to
local variations in climate, crop-
ping patterns,  and soil and water
resources. More information is
needed on the effects of dif-
ferent agricultural practices at
the field, farm,  and small water-
shed level.
  To meet this end, EPA's Office
of Water and Waste Manage-
ment and Office of Research and
Development have jointly
developed a comprehensive
monitoring and evaluation pro-
gram guidance  document. This
guidance will help  regional,
State, and local agencies
develop useful information from
the many early  control projects
now going on.  The program
covers two kinds of monitoring
and evaluation: general (to  be
conducted on many EPA and
USDA control projects) and
intensive (to be conducted over
at least 5 years  on  approximately
10 selected projects).

Objective 3: Expedite the im-
plementation  of agricultural
NPS control programs:
  • Make use of existing
resources and authorities of
EPA, U.S. Department of
Agriculture,  and other agencies
(such as  U.S. Department of the
Interior or Tennessee Valley
EPA Documenca- Charles O'Rear

Authority) to accelerate the
implementation of approved and
certified State agricultural NPS
control programs.

  • Seek additional resources to
fund the implementation of
agricultural NPS control pro-
grams (from Federal, State,  and
local sources).

  • Encourage States to use
their existing legislative
authorities for water pollution
control as  necessary to secure
the application of BMP's where
nonregulatory programs prove
  Implementation is the highest
priority of  the Agriculture Non-
point Source Strategy.
Aggressive national and State
leadership  is required to help
States make use of their own
authorities, as well as the
authorities and resources of
Federal agencies, to expedite
implementation of agricultural
NPS control programs. EPA
Regional Project Officers will
work with  States and other
agencies to develop at least  one
accelerated implementation proj-
ect for a priority agricultural
water quality problem area in
each State, in addition to ongo-
ing projects under the Model Im-
plementation Program, Agricul-
tural Conservation Program,  and
Rural Clean Water Program.

Objective 4: Develop a
Management Information
System for evaluating the ef-
fectiveness of the agricultural
NPS control program.
   The Water Quality Manage-
ment Program will  be evaluated
on its success in implementing
208 planning decisions which will
lead to achievement of the
Nation's water quality goals. A
management information system
will be developed which will pro-
vide information for evaluating
the NPS Water Quality Manage-
ment  Program. Agriculture will
be a key element in the system.
  Hundreds of management
agencies have been designated
to implement agricultural NPS
control programs, and in most
cases  these agencies have not
been providing information
directly to  EPA.  At  present, EPA
does not have any system for
collecting and analyzing data
which will  help determine
whether a  program  is successful
in meeting its water quality
  A management information
system task force will be formed
to establish the scope and nature
of the system. The  task force
will include representatives of
EPA's Water Planning Division,
Office of Research and Develop-
ment, and Regional Offices; the
U.S. Department of Agriculture;
and the States.  EPA will  also
work with  the Regional Offices
and the States to develop criteria
for evaluating State and local
NPS control programs.

Objective 5: Conduct analysis
of policy  issues required to
provide a basis for EPA's long
range agricultural strategy.
  To date, EPA's agricultural
NPS policy and  programs have
focused on using presently
available legislative  authority,
funding resources, and institu-
tions.  EPA believes that signifi-
cant short term progress in NPS
implementation can be achieved
in this manner. However, it is
also necessary to evaluate a
number of broader agricultural
policy issues and longer range
needs in relation to the Nation's
water quality goals.
  Such analysis is required to
address changing needs and to
ensure consistancy among
Federal programs. For example,
during the past few years,
agricultural production has been
curtailed as a matter of national
policy (through such means as
cropland set-aside programs). It
now appears that this policy is
changing.  The effect will be to
bring marginal lands into produc-
tion which may require more
management to prevent NPS
pollution. Discussion has arisen
over proposals to link other
economic incentive programs for
agriculture with adoption of a
soil and water conservation plan
by the individual farmer. A coor-
dinated policy will be  required to
ensure that agricultural and en-
vironmental goals are mutually
  Other issues requiring analysis
include the comparative effec-
tiveness of regulatory versus
non-regulatory NPS control pro-
grams for agriculture and the  use
of  Section 313 to accelerate NPS
implementation on public lands.
  EPA's Water Planning Division
will work closely with EPA's
Office of Research and Develop-
ment, Regional EPA offices, the
U.S  Department of Agriculture,
national agricultural and
environmental organizations, and
others to study policy issues and
recommend any appropriate
policy changes.
WQM  Plans
  Water Quality Management
("208") plans play an impor-
tant role in identifying
"critical areas" where control
measures are needed to
reduce agricultural nonpoint
source pollution. The follow-
ing States had EPA-approved
WQM plans (or agricultural
portions thereof) as of
December 1979.
New Mexico
North Carolina
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

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