The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) works with agricultural producers to minimize water quality and quantity issues by using best management practices. A clean and plentiful water supply is essential for productive agriculture to supply the public with adequate food and fiber. But agriculture, like other land uses, can sometimes negatively affect water quality.
Common Causes of Poor Water Quality:
- Soil erosion
- Manure runoff
- Over-application of nitrogen fertilizer
- Excess phosphorus
These sources can deliver pollution to streams, rivers, and lakes, and may contaminate groundwater with nitrate. They can also harm drinking water supplies, aquatic ecosystems, and the recreational uses of water bodies.
Crops, livestock, and poultry operations require adequate water for on-farm uses. Increasingly, competition from other sectors of society impacts the availability of clean water. Municipalities, industries, and the natural environment all have claims on the available water. Droughts make water even more precious.