Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Clean Water Act (CWA)
CWA Agricultural Exemptions and
Associated NRCS Conservation
Practice Standards
New England Farmers Union
December 12, 2014
NRCS in a Nutshell
 Our aim is to protect and enhance natural
resources on private working lands
 We administer and deliver numerous
agriculture programs, including but not
limited to “Farm Bill” programs, and
– We provide technical and financial assistance to
producers to implement Conservation Practices
to address identified resource concerns
– We and our customers need to be compliant
with U.S., State, and Local Laws
Environmental Compliance
 NRCS completes an environmental evaluation to
ensure proposed agency actions are compliant with
U.S. laws (National Environmental Protection Act,
CWA, etc.)
 NRCS does not apply for federal or state permits.
Our clients are responsible for obtaining needed
State and Federal permits.
– NRCS strives to inform clients of potential permit
needs => Regulatory agencies make the actual
permit determination, not NRCS
– NRCS will provide technical designs needed by
regulatory agencies for permit issuance
CWA 404(f)(1)(A)
Interpretive Rule
 Effective April 3, 2014
 All “normal farming” activities remain
exempted from permitting under section
404 and associated 401 permit
requirements, but the IR specifically
identifies 56 NRCS National Conservation
Practices that enhance or protect water
quality and exempts them from CWA
All “Normal Farming” exemptions:
 Apply to producers involved in NRCS
– e.g., Environmental Quality Incentives Program,
Conservation Technical Assistance Program
 Apply to producers NOT involved with NRCS
 Are self-implementing
– Producers/land owners do not need notification,
verification or documentation from the COE or
EPA to ensure the activity is exempt
NRCS’ Role Regarding CWA IR
Exempted Practices
 NRCS Programs
– NRCS will follow our normal planning process
– Note: NRCS could use the Conservation
Technical Assistance program to assist
producers, but Farm Bill programs are our 1st
priority. Workloads will determine NRCS
 Producers not in NRCS Programs
– Producers will be directed to the National
Conservation Practices website
NRCS’ Role Regarding CWA (Cont.)
 NRCS is
NOT authorized to administer the CWA
 For Non-program Participants
– NRCS will NOT confirm or verify a practice is
installed to needed criteria and specifications
– NRCS will NOT conduct field visits
– We may be able to answer questions relative to
interpreting/understanding standards used in Maine
 NRCS will NOT discuss client-specific issues with EPA
or COE without a release of information form signed
by the producer
Anatomy of a Conservation Practice
NRCS State Standards, Specification
Guides & Other Technical Resources
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Thank You!
Jeff Norment, Biologist
207-990-9100 Ext #3
New England Farmers Union
December 12, 2014

Natural Resource Conservation Service Presentation