A water quality management plan (WQMP) is a site-specific plan developed through and approved by soil and water conservation districts for agricultural or silvicultural lands. The plan includes appropriate land treatment practices, production practices, management measures, technologies or combinations thereof. The purpose of WQMPs is to achieve a level of pollution prevention or abatement determined by the TSSWCB, in consultation with local soil and water conservation districts, to be consistent with state water quality standards.
Origin of the Program
The passage of Senate Bill 503 by the Texas Legislature directed the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board to implement water quality management plans in Texas. The agency has been implementing WQMPs since the mid-1990's and has certified over 14,000 plans in the State of Texas.
What criteria must the WQMP meet?
The TSSWCB selected requirements for a WQMP based on the criteria outlined in the Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG), a publication of the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The FOTG represents the best available technology and is already tailored to meet the needs of soil and water conservation districts all over the nation.
A WQMP covers the entire operating unit, and includes required practices applicable to the planned land use. Conservation cropping sequence and residue management should be considered for cropland. Proper grazing use is a vital consideration for a good WQMP on rangeland. Various grazing systems will be examined and a sustainable system will be implemented. A WQMP on pastureland/hayland will have water facility considerations. Forested land and wildlife are not to be excluded from the WQMP operating unit.
WQMPs also include more technical requirements, nutrient management must be outlined if nutrients are applied and pesticide management must also be considered. An owner/operator will have to know how to properly apply these components to their land. If an animal feeding operation is involved (such as a dairy or poultry operation), an animal waste management system will be a sub-component of the WQMP. Waste utilization will be considered when agricultural wastes are applied. Aforementioned WQMPs will also have sub-components for irrigation waters, erosion control and are flexible enough to cater to a wide range of operating systems.
How to obtain a WQMP:
The first step in obtaining a WQMP is to visit your local soil and water conservation district (SWCD). Typically, the SWCD office is co-located with the NRCS at the local USDA Service Center. NRCS or SWCD staff at the local office can take your request for a WQMP, obtain necessary information from you, and start the plan development process.
How much does a WQMP cost?
There is no charge for development of a WQMP. However, there may be costs for implementing certain practices required in your WQMP, for which there may be financial assistance available. Contact your local SWCD for more information.
What Does A Plan Contain?
- A District-Cooperator Agreement
- Written Request for planning assistance
- Soil Map of the area with appropriate interpretations
- Conservation Plan Map
- Narrative Record of decisions (including all practices needed for a WQMP)
- Implementation schedule indicating the year practices are to be applied
- Worksheets used during the inventory and/or planning phase of WQMP
- Signature sheet to verify individual's privacy
5 Step WQMP Participation Process:
- An individual requests planning assistance through the local soil and water conservation district.
- The plan is developed with NRCS and TSSWCB assistance.
- The WQMP is certified.
- The individual implements the WQMP on their land.
- The WQMP is subject to periodic status reviews.