In 2016, marking its 10th anniversary, the Source Water Collaborative (SWC) launched the Learning Exchange. The Learning Exchange aims to strengthen the effectiveness of source water practitioners across the country by providing a platform to share experiences, transfer knowledge, and learn about funding and technical resources available to support their efforts.
The Learning Exchange provides a platform to host & share:
- Stories of success that showcase projects and partnerships making a difference in communities across the country and how others may duplicate these successes
- Knowledge sharing events such as webinars, and virtual workshops
- Opportunities to converse with peers through online networking forums and social media
- Shareable quotes, graphics, and tips to support your organization’s operations and outreach efforts
- Technical and educational materials developed by or recommended by Collaborative member organizations and Learning Exchange participants
Over the past 3 years the Learning Exchange has offered several organized events, communications, and resources arranged by theme. Building on several of these modules, the Collaborative is adding new webinars and resources to its website, including the most recent updates (a new recorded webinar and additional SWC and member resources) to the Source Water Protection Through Conservation Funding Learning Exchange page.
We thought it important to update these resources because on December 20, 2018, the President signed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly known as the Farm Bill.
That date marked the culmination of an extensive, long-term, and successful effort by member American Water Works Association (AWWA) to make source water protection a priority within U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs – and to designate significant funding towards those efforts. Conservation programs spend nearly $6 billion per year providing assistance to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to protect and enhance environmental outcomes that have benefits both on and off the farm. Although water quality has always been recognized as a goal of these programs, source water protection was not an overt focus. Under the new Farm Bill, ten percent of spending on Conservation Title programs is to be directed to source water protection, providing at least $4 billion over the next 10 years.
The Source Water Collaborative and its members are committed to facilitating the successful leveraging of these funds to protect source waters. Utilities and states need to work with NRCS state technical committees and local work groups to communicate source water protection needs and inform outreach and conservation practice implementation. We hope the updates to our Source Water Protection Through Conservation Funding Learning Exchange page will encourage source water protection advocates to make the most of the Conservation Title programs administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service to support their important work with agricultural and forest landowners.