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You are here: Home / About WQIC / Working Group on Water Resources / Water Quality: A Report of Progress / Preface  Printer Friendly Page
About the Water Quality Information Center
Working Group on Water Resources

Water Quality: A Report of Progress

Published Sep 1997


During this century, advances in agricultural science and technology have profoundly affected our standard of living and way of life. Agricultural chemicals are an important component of these advances. They contribute substantially to the productivity and efficiency of agriculture and to the well-being of rural and urban communities. Even so, many people are concerned about the possible risks to human health, water quality, and a safe environment resulting from the use of these chemicals. Better methods of detecting minuscule amounts of chemicals in water have alerted us to the need to be more judicious in their use and more careful in their management.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is committed to ensuring that this Nation meets the challenge of maintaining the efficiency and productivity of agriculture without compromising the quality of our water resources or the safety of our environment. Many farmers view their relationship with natural resources as one of stewardship. This partnership, however, requires knowledge about environmental problems, such as water contamination, and the adoption of appropriate practices to enhance or protect water quality.

The preservation and enhancement of water quality in agricultural areas calls for the timely delivery of research, educational materials, conservation technology, and financial assistance. The USDA strongly encourages voluntary actions to protect and conserve water resources. To assist land users with soil and water resource problems, USDA offers a strong institutional framework, and an established network of researchers, technical and financial assistance specialists, economists, and educators.

USDA has coordinated its Water Quality Program with other Federal agencies to provide assistance to State and local governments, and to the landowner; to improve its data bases; and to focus its efforts to better assess and address water quality problems.

This report summarizes USDA achievements for developing the scientific, educational, technical and financial assistance, data base, and evaluation needed to enhance and maintain the quality of our Nation's water resources. It is based on the program achievements of the Agricultural Research Service, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, Farm Service Agency, Economic Research Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and National Agricultural Library.

USDA's Water Quality Program, and its Working Group on Water Quality (WGWQ), provide mechanisms to respond to both continuing and new challenges. The WGWQ provides a focus for departmental perspectives; for communicating with partners from both the agricultural and environmental communities; to provide insight from both communities; and to facilitate the search for mutually acceptable solutions. The WGWQ's very existence is a powerful message to both communities that USDA is aware of, and concerned about, the need to protect water quality without unnecessarily handicapping American farmers in the global marketplace.

Last Modified: Feb 25, 2011

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