Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced the awarding of more than $14 million in grants to universities and private enterprises nationwide to address water supply and water quality issues. “Improving the quality and availability of our nation's water resources is an important commitment of the Bush Administration,” says Johanns. “These projects will expand our knowledge base and help address critical issues of water availability and water quality in rural America.”

The funds stem from two programs administered by the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES); the National Integrated Water Quality Program (NIWQP) and the National Research Initiative (NRI) Watershed Processes and Water Resources Program (WPWRP). NIWQP-funded projects help rural communities and officials with science-based decisions and management practices that improve surface water and groundwater resources in agricultural and rural watersheds. The United States Department of Agriculture provided 19 awards this year with an average award of $578,000.

The NRI WPWRP aims to explain basic processes that affect the quality and quantity of water resources moving in and from range, forest and agricultural watersheds. Fourteen additional awards were made through the NRI WPWR program with an average award of $307,000 for standard research grants.

Each year, these two programs provide funding for water resources research, education and extension at universities, non-profit organizations and private enterprises.