The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide cost-share assistance through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to fill abandoned irrigation reuse pits in the watersheds of priority Rainwater Basin wetlands. Rainwater Basin Joint Venture partners have additional cost-share dollars available to fill pits identified as high priorities for removal.
Reuse pits were constructed to collect irrigation water runoff from cropland. Unfortunately, they also capture a significant amount of surface water runoff that previously flowed to nearby wetlands. This has caused wetlands in the Rainwater Basin region to pond water at reduced levels or for shorter durations, thus limiting habitat for migrating birds.
With wider use of center pivot irrigation systems, the need for irrigation reuse pits has decreased. The EQIP initiative to fill unneeded pits can help producers reclaim these acres for farmland, while also helping to restore the function of the area’s wetlands.
Agricultural landowners and operators interested in this opportunity should contact their local Natural Resources Conservation Service office before the October 16 deadline to determine eligibility for the cost share funding and complete an application.
A portion of the cost-share from RWBJV partners is provided by grants from the Nebraska Environmental Trust fund.