Palmer River Initiative

Palmer River Project

The Palmer River Initiative is a project of the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Districts preformed in conjunction with the Rehoboth Agricultural Commission, Bristol County Conservation District, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, Mass. Dept. of Agricultural Resources and the Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection.

Helpful Links

Massachusetts Association of Conservation Districts
USDA, NRCS Massachusetts National Water Quality Initiative
USDA, NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program
Mass Department of Agricultural Resources, Agricultural Environmental Enhancement Program
Mass Department of Environmental Protection Nonpoint Source 319 Grant Program


Massachusetts Association of Conservation Districts
Scope of Services

ACPP Technical Providers for the Palmer River Watershed

Project # 13-08/319


The Palmer River Watershed in the Narragansett Bay Basin has been selected by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service ( NRCS) as the target of the National Water Quality Initiative ( NWQI) in Massachusetts. 

The Palmer River is impaired by pathogens and nutrients, some of which are related to agricultural activities.  Pollutants from farms can effectively be mitigated through farm conservation practices and other nonpoint source BMPs.  Under the NWQI, NRCS will dedicate additional technical and financial resources to address these impairments.  Other state and federal entities are engaging to support the NWQI effort, including the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Districts (MACD).  MassDEP, through its 319 Nonpoint Source Program, can also provide technical and financial resources.  MACD, through its Accelerated Conservation Planning Program (ACPP) , has field staff who can be engaged to work with Palmer River farmers to develop and implement conservation planning practices and nonpoint source BMPs to address NWQI goals.  The Grantee is the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Districts (MACD).


Project Goals:

MACD will provide two FTEs to serve as field staff dedicated to undertake the tasks and produce the deliverables as outlined herein.  The goals of the project include 1) complete as many farm conservation plans as possible and 2) fully implement as many of the completed plans as possible. 


Targeted Pollutants:

The primary pollutants of concern are nutrients and pathogens. 

Scope of Services

The scope of services for this contract shall consist of the following tasks and deliverables.  In order for a deliverable to be considered complete under the contract, the deliverable must be completed in accordance with the contract specifications and contract schedule, must be approved by MassDEP, and must otherwise satisfy the contract provision, as determined by MassDEP. All farm conservation plans developed through this project shall be approved by the USDA, NRCS.

Task 1:  Quality Assurance and Project Evaluation

The project is covered under the Department’s 319 Programmatic Quality Assurance Project Plan, FFY 2011 – 2015, approved by US EPA on November 16, 2010.  The Grantee will provide information as requested by MassDEP to facilitate evaluation and reporting of project success. 

Task 2: Develop and implement farm conservation plans

The overarching goal is development and full implementation of farm conservation plans that will address water quality impacts from agricultural activities in the Palmer River Watershed.   MACD  technical providers will work with farms to develop and implement comprehensive farm conservation plans that outline a full suite of water quality best management practices necessary to prevent or remediate nonpoint source pollution generated by farm activities.  The goal is for implementation of plans on each farm to begin once their plan is completed.   Implementation of the plans may include construction of new BMPs and/or maintenance or renovation of existing BMPs.  

All farm conservation plans developed through this project shall be approved by the NRCS.  MACD technical staff and subcontractors will develop overall baseline data on land use and status of farm conservation plans in the watershed, and will develop and implement farm conservation plans and agricultural nonpoint source best management practices for the prevention and remediation of agricultural nonpoint source pollution. New England Consulting Services will conduct on-site visits with MACD Farm Planners to identify areas of environmental concern and BMP options to address concerns.  To the maximum extent possible, MACD providers will secure landowner permission to release project details for the purpose of project reporting.

Task 3: Provide technical and regulatory support

Work with local Conservation Commissions and Agricultural Commissions in the Palmer River watershed to encourage and facilitate farmer participation in MDAR, NRCS, and MassDEP programs.  Develop dialogue between and among farmers, federal, state and local agencies to address agricultural water quality issues. Working with MassDEP point of contact, assist with regulatory compliance questions and issues and provide regulatory interpretation and support for farmers, conservation commissions, and agricultural commissions as needed. Rehoboth Agricultural Commission will take lead on delivering programs for the community including workshops for municipal officials, community groups and environmental organizations.

Task 4:  Outreach and education

Conduct an education program on agricultural BMP implementation including workshops and farm tours. Bristol County Conservation District will assist in hosting workshops for farmers/land owners.  Identify areas needing regulatory or procedural clarification or improved BMPs or practices, and develop fact sheets and guidance that will lead to new BMPs. From available resources, develop list of BMP’s that can be utilized on farms and identify situations in which BMP’s may be needed (wash house waste water).  Determine if research is needed to support new BMP development.

Develop dialogue with residents in the watershed to share what is being done by the agricultural community to preserve and protect the water quality of the Palmer. Rehoboth Agricultural Commission will enhance print and web based media to include information on agricultural Best Management Practices.

Task 5: Access to resources

Help farmers identify and access financial and technical resources for enhanced water quality protection. A consultant will work one on one with farmers taking them through the maze of programs EQIP, NWQI, AEEP to assist in providing FA to implement practices on farms, including matching implementation 319 funds from this project.



"This project has been financed with Federal Funds from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (the Department) under a s. 319 competitive grant.  The contents do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of  EPA or the Department, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use."