About the Choctawhatchee-Pea Basin
Agriculture in the (Choc-Pea) Basin encompasses portions of Barbour, Bullock, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston, and Pike Counties in southeast Alabama. The boundary of the Choc-Pea Basin includes one of the largest agricultural producing regions in Alabama. Row crop agriculture is a dominant source of income for the area, in addition to beef, dairy cattle, and poultry production.
Watershed Plan – Environmental Assessment Process and Status
A Watershed Plan – Environmental Assessment (Plan-EA) was developed for the Choc-Pea Basin to fulfill requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and to be considered for authorization of Public Law 83-566 (PL-566) funding for irrigation expansion within the basin. The Irrigation Watershed Planning Project (IWP) benefits rural communities by reducing damages to crops, improving soil health, and protecting basin water quality through sustainable irrigation expansion while minimizing impacts to the environment and cultural resources.
The Plan-EA will be used by the Alabama Soil and Water Conservation Committee (SWCC) to identify farms eligible to receive cost-share funds for irrigation infrastructure.
On August 20, 2019, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and project partners held a farmer scoping meeting to identify farmer needs in the Choc-Pea Basin. Comments received during this meeting were documented and aided in the development of the Draft Watershed Plan-EA.
A Preliminary Investigation and Feasibility Report were prepared by the technical team from Auburn University and the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
A Draft Watershed Plan-EA is available for a 30-day public review period from Feb. 11, 2021 to March 2, 2021. The Draft Plan-EA identifies potential alternatives to meet the project’s purpose and need, identifies the resources potentially affected by the project, and evaluates the effects of the project on those resources.
NRCS and project partners will conduct a public meeting via zoom on February 26th at 9 a.m. CST to discuss the Draft Plan-EA, answer questions, and listen to comments and concerns from the public. Register for this meeting by emailing IWP@auburn.edu or by calling (334)-844-3809.
Input Needed and Valued
NRCS invites all interested parties to review the Choc-Pea Draft Watershed Plan-EA and attend the public meeting to learn more about the project. We are asking for your comments and suggestions to develop a Final Watershed Plan-EA for the Choc-Pea Basin.
Download the Choc-Pea Draft Watershed Plan-EA here
Paper copies of the draft watershed plan are available at NRCS and Soil and Water Conservation Committee District offices in Barbour, Bullock, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston, and Pike Counties.
How to Submit Comments
Written comments are encouraged and will be accepted in person at the public meeting or via U.S. Mail:
Vernon Abney, State Conservation Engineer
Natural Resources Conservation Service
P.O. Box 311
Auburn, Alabama 36831-0311
Please Note: Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable information in your comment, be advised that your entire comment – including your full name – may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold from public review your personally identifiable information, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
Further information on the public involvement process can be found at the Council of Environmental Quality’s Citizens Guide to NEPA, found at this link: https://ceq.doe.gov/get-involved/citizens_guide_to_nepa.html.
For additional information about the Irrigation Watershed Planning Program, contact:
Vernon Abney, NRCS State Conservation Engineer by email at Vernon.email@example.com.