Water Source Protection Program – What is it?

Legislation to promote partnerships between the U.S. Forest Service and downstream water users is making its way through Congress.

Inspired by numerous watershed investment partnerships springing up in the West, the U.S. Senate included a “Water Source Protection Program” in the Forestry Title of the 2018 Farm Bill, which the Senate approved on June 28 by a 86-11 vote.  The bill now moves to the Senate-House conference committee.

If enacted by Congress, the Water Source Protection Program will –

  • Require the Forest Service to establish and maintain a Water Source Protection Program to carry out watershed protection and restoration projects on national forest lands.
  • Authorize the Forest Service to enter into water source investment partnership agreements and develop water source management plans with water utilities, tribes, and other downstream water users.
  • Clarify the process for conducting environmental and endangered species reviews.
  • Allow the Forest Service to accept funding assistance from partners either directly or through the National Forest Foundation
  • Set up a Water Source Protection Fund to match financial or in-kind support from partners.
  • Authorize federal appropriations of $10 million annually for the program.

See Senator Heinrich’s July 2018 Press Release here

Since 2010, Carpe Diem West has been promoting this work.  Success stories and background information is below.

Watershed Investment Programs – Report
Watershed investment Programs – Update
The Legal Framework for Public Watershed Investment Partnerships
Healthy Headwater’s Success Stories: Salt Lake City, Utah; Eugene, Oregon; Denver, Colorado; Santa Fe, New Mexico
Testimony before Congress – Forest Service Appropriations Bill
Linking Upstream Watershed Health to the Hearts Minds & Wallets of Downstream Water Users
The Economic Value of Water and Watershed on National Forest Lands in the United States

June 2018

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