The goal of NWQI is to implement conservation practices in sufficient quantity within a concentrated area so that agriculture no longer contributes to the impairment of water bodies within these priority watersheds.
This year, NRCS added 17 new watersheds to NWQI, and because of marked progress in some watersheds, "graduated" 13 watersheds from the initiative.
Since 2012, conservation systems have been place on almost 500,000 acres in priority watersheds through NWQI, supported by $100 million in USDA investments.
In 2016, NRCS will bolster its water quality efforts by introducing a new evaluation tool in selected NWQI watersheds.
NWQI in its 3rd year is adding more small watersheds nationwide and builds on efforts to target high-impact conservation in areas including the Mississippi River basin, Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes.
Arkansas has three watersheds in the NWQI, all of which drain to the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.