Water for Agriculture – COVID-19 Update

We are reaching out to all of our partners and stakeholders with hopes that you are well and managing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on your personal and professional lives.

Like all of you, the Water for Ag team is following government mandates and recommendations to maintain the safety of all our team members and community partners. Social distancing means we are unable to hold face-to-face engagement meetings. However, our Local Leadership Teams and project team members are maintaining relationships and momentum through other means of communicating, including online meetings, conference calls, and email and mail. We are also adapting activities to the current situation and reacting to the specific concerns for agriculture, production, and food distribution systems in each of our project sites. Some examples of these activities include….

  • The Verde Valley (Arizona) Leadership Team met online the week of April 20th, and identified their priority projects. These projects include developing a tool to provide Verde Valley growers location-specific information about soil, water availability, crop water use (including evapotranspiration) and elevation and serving as a focus-group for developing a “Verde Grown” trademark for locally grown products.
  • Although the pandemic resulted in the cancelation of the North Platte (Nebraska) Leadership Team’s conference on April 8, team members made sure to record the planned presentations and made them available online.  The presentations range from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spring snowmelt forecast for the North Platte River basin to an update on the Goshen / Gering-Ft Laramie Irrigation Districts’ tunnel collapse and canal breach.  Each topic provided a unique look into water use, management and history.
  • The Central Platte (Nebraska) Leadership Team continues moving forward to develop the Central Platte project. The team has put in place a governance structure and endowment to support long-term water quality and availability in the region through assisting landowners with removal of phragmites and other invasive species.
  • The Potter/Tioga (Pennsylvania) Leadership Team has recently received a grant from USGS to conduct water sampling as a component of their overall priorities and is beginning their implementation plan for sample collection. They are also currently working with existing groups to develop train the trainer, farmer to farmer and/or landowner to landowner trainings as well as expanding their capacity and data in response to both landowner perspectives and the lack of current water quality data.
  • The Mifflin County (Pennsylvania) Leadership Team has been reviewing soil sampling data collected prior to the pandemic as part of the cover cropping project, sharing survey results, developing an outreach, compiling additional water quality data profiles and developing a strategy for meeting leadership team priorities following the relaxing of restrictions.
  • Lastly, all Water for Agriculture team members are continuing to work toward project goals, analyzing data and developing survey reports and summaries, writing a guide for engaging stakeholders in the context of water and agriculture, developing research papers that summarize what we’ve learned so far about the effects of engagement and conducting online presentations and workshops

We as a team recognize that the agriculture industry is experiencing unprecedented upheavals and disruptions that are different across each of the states participating in the Water for Ag project. Our team is ready to provide whatever support we can to help our project partners navigate these challenges. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if there is any way we can assist you.

Online Engagement Resources and Tools

In the wake of social distancing, the number and focus of online resources have expanded considerably – as has their importance. The list provided on the pdf above is a brief guide to some of the more useful and relevant resources currently available.