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Bighorn Basin Water Quality Project Get Federal Funding

National Parks Service

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $56 million to improve water quality for farmers in watersheds across the country, including one effort in the state.

The Wyoming Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is receiving $1 million to work on the Alamo Creek-Bighorn River watershed, a project that it's been prioritizing since 2016.

That lump sum comes from the USDA's National Water Quality Initiative and also includes some funding for other projects NRCS is working on.

NRCS will work with 30 producers across 31,000 acres near Manderson to target E. Coli and some sediment issues.

State Resource Conservationist Andi Neugebauer said the NRCS has received funding from the USDA's National Water Quality Initiative to help farmers near Manderson

"We're putting on-field practices like irrigation sprinkles and pipelines and irrigation water management to help treat our water quality resource concerns to by keeping water from flowing off fields and into drainages that feed into the Bighorn River," she said.

Neugebauer said farmers will have to meet some standards to be a part of the program.

"They have to be implementing a conservation plan on their property, so we know they aren't eroding too much soil, and they are compliant with wetland provision, basically meaning they aren't filling a wetland with their farming," she said.

The program will continue at this watershed until the condition is treated or NRCS runs out of farmers to participate.

NRSC says that across the program's 31,000 acre reach, 10,500 acres are used to farm sugar beets, malt barley, pinto beans and alfalfa.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Catherine Wheeler, at cwheel11@uwyo.edu.

Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.
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