Water Quality:

Information on USDA's Water Quality Cost-Share Programs

RCED-92-139FS: Published: Mar 16, 1992. Publicly Released: Apr 15, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information about ten Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs that provide cost-share payments to farmers and ranchers to implement USDA-approved water-quality activities, focusing on the programs': (1) intent; (2) activities that are eligible for cost-sharing; and (3) funding.

GAO found that: (1) three of the ten programs are dedicated solely to enhancing or protecting water quality, while the other seven programs have water quality as a secondary benefit; (2) the 10 programs provide for a total of 92 activities that protect or enhance water quality and are eligible for cost-share funding; (3) activities eligible for cost-share funding include well testing, the planting of vegetative cover, irrigation work, and habitat management; (4) appropriated funding for the ten programs totalled about $1.71 billion in fiscal year 1991, with about $62.5 million used for water quality activities and $39.7 million used to provide cost-share payments; and (5) the Agricultural Conservation Program is the largest water quality cost-share program, using about two-thirds of the $39.7 million in total cost-share payments.

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