Opportunities for cleaner water thru MRBI and
RCPP targeted watershed projects
MICHELLE PEREZ | Senior Associate | July 28...
3 papers on improving water quality
through better targeting of U.S. farm conservation funds
www.wri.org/water/water-quali...
What is Targeting?
• Purpose / Objective / Goal?
- “To get more conservation on the ground” or “To improve water
quality” ...
Benefits to
Business-As-Usual Conservation
Solves individual water quality problems on individual farms
BAU v. Targeting
Targeted Watershed Project Successes
• Rural Clean Water Program (’80 – ’90)
- 12/21 projects achieved measurable water qu...
Mississippi
River Basin
Healthy
Watersheds
Initiative
Projects
Reviewed by
State
Methods
• Conducted a literature review
- Identified likely factors important to targeting success (measurable
improvement...
6 Targeting Characteristics
1. Stakeholder and producer buy-in
2. Type & how S.M.A.R.T.-Q. are goals
3. Geographic targeti...
Stakeholder &
Producer Buy-in
SMART-
Q Goals
Geographic
Targeting
Monitoring
& Evaluation
Cost-
Effective-
ness
Adaptive
M...
STAKEHOLDER FINDINGS
STAKEHOLDER FINDINGS
It takes a skilled &
resource-rich village!
• Projects had 2 - 30 partners; Median: 9.5
- 98% had pro...
RECOMMENDATIONS:
• Make sure all the right stakeholders are involved in
developing the targeted watershed projects (TWP)
i...
GOALS: 4 types
1. Output goals
e.g. # cover crop acres planted, # NM plans, livestock exclusion
2. Interim outcome goals (...
GOAL FINDINGS
Most projects went beyond outputs to set
outcome-oriented goals
• All projects set MULTIPLE goals
- 93%: out...
PROJECT-LEVEL
GOAL FINDINGS
• Half of the most
ambitious project goals
weren’t very SMART-Q
• 78% of projects mention
poli...
RECOMMENDATIONS:
• Write clear, SMART-Q goal
statements for both the
program & projects
• Prioritize funds for projects
th...
GEOGRAPHIC TARGETING FINDINGS
Initiative lacked targeting rational
for each of 43 MRBI areas
• Referenced relevant data bu...
GEOGRAPHIC
TARGETING
FINDINGS
Most projects had a
good rationale for
choosing project areas
• 93% provided scientific evid...
RECOMMENDATION:
• Provide “targeting narratives” for the
targeted watershed projects
 Tell the public about it on an MRBI...
MEASUREMENT EVALUTION FINDINGS
A lot of water quality monitoring may be
occurring at a lot of different scales
• Many proj...
# Projects
monitoring
each major
water quality
indicator
category
Actual water quality indicators
mentioned
MEASUREMENT & EVALUTION FINDINGS
• Uncertain Initiative oversight, leadership, & accountability
for Initiative-level resul...
MEASUREMENT & EVALUTION FINDINGS
A bit of modeling planned
• 28% of projects proposed to use models to evaluate
outcomes:
...
FACTORS
IMPACTING
MONITORING
SUCCESS
• Only half the projects
mentioned setting an
adequate water quality
monitoring basel...
RECOMMENDATIONS:
• Ensure leadership & accountability for landscape-
scale outcomes
 Establish MRBI & RCPP HQ & State Coo...
COST
EFFECTIVENESS 
FINDINGS
ADAPTIVE 
MANAGEMENT
FINDINGS
• 40% plan to analyze data
to evaluate the
effectiveness of the...
RECOMMENDATIONS:
• Require a narrative
discussion (at least) of cost
effectiveness & invest in
tools or provide methods to...
Thank You!
Michelle Perez, PhD
202-729-7908
mperez@wri.org
wri.org/publication/MRBI
wri.org/water/water-quality-targeting
Perez   adventures in cooperative conservation
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Perez adventures in cooperative conservation

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69th SWCS International Annual Conference
July 27-30, 2014
Lombard, IL

Published in: Environment
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Perez adventures in cooperative conservation

  1. 1. Opportunities for cleaner water thru MRBI and RCPP targeted watershed projects MICHELLE PEREZ | Senior Associate | July 28, 2014 Presentation for Soil and Water Conservation Society | Lombard, IL MRBI Design Lessons
  2. 2. 3 papers on improving water quality through better targeting of U.S. farm conservation funds www.wri.org/water/water-quality-targeting
  3. 3. What is Targeting? • Purpose / Objective / Goal? - “To get more conservation on the ground” or “To improve water quality” or “To achieve specified water quality goals” • Scale? - MRB–GOM region; local stream or river segments; lakes  Geographic targeting • Principles? - Cost-effectiveness: Maximize nutrient reductions per dollar spent Benefit-cost targeting • Metrics of success? - Administrative outputs: BMP #s, dollars spent, acres treated - Environmental outcomes: Water quality indicators at edge of field, in-stream, watershed outlet
  4. 4. Benefits to Business-As-Usual Conservation Solves individual water quality problems on individual farms
  5. 5. BAU v. Targeting
  6. 6. Targeted Watershed Project Successes • Rural Clean Water Program (’80 – ’90) - 12/21 projects achieved measurable water quality improvements • 319 Projects (on-going) - 1/3 of 488 “Success Stories” thanks to ag conservation programs • NIFA-CEAP Watershed Projects (2013) - 6/13 projects achieved measurable water quality improvements • Iowa’s Watershed Councils - Extension + farm leaders + farmers = water quality improvements
  7. 7. Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative
  8. 8. Projects Reviewed by State
  9. 9. Methods • Conducted a literature review - Identified likely factors important to targeting success (measurable improvements in water quality) & selected 6 key characteristics • Requested ‘10 & ‘11 MRBI proposals & performance reports - Reviewed RFPs - Reviewed 45/75 (60%) awarded proposals - Reviewed available annual performance reports • Interviewed MRBI, EQIP managers, 8 project leaders, & targeting & water quality experts • Produced a “snap shot” of 2 months of targeting thinking & project intentions
  10. 10. 6 Targeting Characteristics 1. Stakeholder and producer buy-in 2. Type & how S.M.A.R.T.-Q. are goals 3. Geographic targeting 4. Measurement and evaluation 5. Cost effectiveness 6. Adaptive management MRBI’s RFP WRI
  11. 11. Stakeholder & Producer Buy-in SMART- Q Goals Geographic Targeting Monitoring & Evaluation Cost- Effective- ness Adaptive Mgt
  12. 12. STAKEHOLDER FINDINGS
  13. 13. STAKEHOLDER FINDINGS It takes a skilled & resource-rich village! • Projects had 2 - 30 partners; Median: 9.5 - 98% had producer connections - 100% had conservation technical assistance skills - 98% had water monitoring skills - 33% had modeling skills • Half the projects leveraged additional funds for more conservation practices & monitoring stations. All leveraged funds for project implementation & reporting. • Few projects included producers in the project design stage.
  14. 14. RECOMMENDATIONS: • Make sure all the right stakeholders are involved in developing the targeted watershed projects (TWP) including farm producers and landowners • Prioritize awards to future projects that leverage and formalize significant resources from non-USDA sources
  15. 15. GOALS: 4 types 1. Output goals e.g. # cover crop acres planted, # NM plans, livestock exclusion 2. Interim outcome goals (short-term) e.g. Reduce fertilizer & manure application rates; Reduce sheet erosion 3. Environmental outcome goals (medium-term) e.g. Reduce N&P loading to streams; Reduce sediment [ ] in streams 4. Ecological balance outcome goals (long-term) e.g. Achieve local TMDL; Remove stream from Impaired Waters List
  16. 16. GOAL FINDINGS Most projects went beyond outputs to set outcome-oriented goals • All projects set MULTIPLE goals - 93%: output goals - 78%: interim outcome goals - 78%: environmental outcome goals • 67% of projects with outcome goals also set quantitative targets
  17. 17. PROJECT-LEVEL GOAL FINDINGS • Half of the most ambitious project goals weren’t very SMART-Q • 78% of projects mention policy drivers (e.g. TMDLs or Impaired Waters List) but don’t state the project aims to address the driver
  18. 18. RECOMMENDATIONS: • Write clear, SMART-Q goal statements for both the program & projects • Prioritize funds for projects that aim to achieve already existing landscape-scale policy goals
  19. 19. GEOGRAPHIC TARGETING FINDINGS Initiative lacked targeting rational for each of 43 MRBI areas • Referenced relevant data but no narrative provided for why each project area was prioritized - Top SPARROW N & P Loading Watersheds - Impaired Waters Lists - TMDL Lists - Availability of existing monitoring data - Availability of staff resources & interested on-the-ground groups - Etc.
  20. 20. GEOGRAPHIC TARGETING FINDINGS Most projects had a good rationale for choosing project areas • 93% provided scientific evidence justifying why project area needing conservation • 76% indicated project area chosen because of ability to yield large environmental benefits
  21. 21. RECOMMENDATION: • Provide “targeting narratives” for the targeted watershed projects  Tell the public about it on an MRBI and an RCPP state information clearing house website
  22. 22. MEASUREMENT EVALUTION FINDINGS A lot of water quality monitoring may be occurring at a lot of different scales • Many projects intend to monitor at - edge-of-field: 82% - in-stream: 80% - watershed: 60%
  23. 23. # Projects monitoring each major water quality indicator category
  24. 24. Actual water quality indicators mentioned
  25. 25. MEASUREMENT & EVALUTION FINDINGS • Uncertain Initiative oversight, leadership, & accountability for Initiative-level results - Providing EOF leadership: monitoring moratorium & new protocols - In-stream & watershed-outlet oversight? • RFP required projects to have a “water quality monitoring and evaluation plan” - Half the projects planned to measure progress towards goal(s) - 42% of projects planned to provide annual performance reports • Additional clarity is needed regarding - What metrics of success are being collected & at what scales? - What methods are being used? - Who is aggregating, analyzing, and reporting metrics?
  26. 26. MEASUREMENT & EVALUTION FINDINGS A bit of modeling planned • 28% of projects proposed to use models to evaluate outcomes: AnnAGNPS ANOVA Iowa’s Sediment Delivery Calculator CE-QUAL-W2 computer models calculation models RUSLE Wisconsin’s SNAP-PLUS STEPL SWAT
  27. 27. FACTORS IMPACTING MONITORING SUCCESS • Only half the projects mentioned setting an adequate water quality monitoring baseline • Only 40% of projects were using an existing watershed-based plan
  28. 28. RECOMMENDATIONS: • Ensure leadership & accountability for landscape- scale outcomes  Establish MRBI & RCPP HQ & State Coordinators to collect results data & tell the public about it on the websites • Establish advisory teams for water quality monitoring, metrics, & modeling • Prioritize projects with already existing baseline data or paired watershed approach • Consider requiring watershed-based planning to help attain landscape-scale outcomes
  29. 29. COST EFFECTIVENESS  FINDINGS ADAPTIVE  MANAGEMENT FINDINGS • 40% plan to analyze data to evaluate the effectiveness of their activities and to adapt accordingly • 42% have an outreach strategy to share results • 3 projects planned to estimate cost- effectiveness of nutrient management effort ($/lb N reduced)
  30. 30. RECOMMENDATIONS: • Require a narrative discussion (at least) of cost effectiveness & invest in tools or provide methods to calculate cost effectiveness • Formalize adaptive management
  31. 31. Thank You! Michelle Perez, PhD 202-729-7908 mperez@wri.org wri.org/publication/MRBI wri.org/water/water-quality-targeting
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