Learn more about the USDA, NRCS, EQIP, and TSP


The Role of the USDA:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is a cabinet-level agency that oversees the American farming industry. USDA duties range from helping farmers with price support subsidies, to inspecting food to ensure the safety of the American public.

The Role of the NRCS:

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), formerly known as the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides technical assistance to farmers and other private landowners and managers.

The Role of the Technical Service Provider or TSP:

Technical Service Providers (TSPs) are individuals or businesses that have technical expertise in conservation planning and design for a variety of conservation activities. TSPs are hired by farmers, ranchers, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, or public agencies to provide these services on behalf of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  Each certified TSP is listed on the NRCS TSP online registry, TechReg.  The TSP registration and approval process involves required training and verification of essential education, knowledge, skills and abilities.

What is the Purpose of the EQIP Programs?

EQIP is an acronym for Environmental Quality Improvement Program. Via these programs agricultural producers are provided financial and technical assistance to in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation or improved or created wildlife habitat.

Relationship of TSP and Irrigation Water Management Plan portion of EQIP:

In 2013, the South Carolina NRCS mandated that Irrigators that were applying for EQIP Funds must also provide NRCS an Irrigation Water Management Plan (IWMP) prepared by a TSP to qualify for funding. Prior to 2013 and with just a few documents, irrigation plans and water management plans could be generated by a Professional Engineer (PE) or an Irrigation Association (IA) Certified Irrigation Designer (CID). Today’s IWMP is a much more comprehensive document including examining many facets of the irrigation design and water management process.

A partial list of elements to be included in the plan is as follows:

1. Identify the Resource to be Managed and Conservation Practice to be applied using good Economic Practices and Management Schemes.
2. Crop Type & Rotation
3. Maps of Field & Water Delivery System including Emission Devices.
4. Documentation of Past and expected Future withdrawals of Water.
5. Volumes of water to be applied over the growing Season
6. Soil Test for nutrient Levels, Soil Type and description of Soil Horizons
7. Test water for Irrigation Suitability including P, K, Ca, Mg, Na, Fe, Cu, B, Cl, EC, Sulfate, Nitrate-Nitrogen, pH, Carbonate, TDS and SAR.
8. Estimates of Distribution Uniformity of irrigation System
9. Develop an Irrigation Schedule – When to Irrigate & how much to Irrigate based on existing level of soil moisture.
10. Develop an Operation & Maintenance Manual for the Irrigation System.

If you’re interested in developing a water management plan for your farm, contact WP Law today and ask about better water management systems!

What Can I Learn from A Pipe Stress Test?

pipe leak

Periodically industries and municipalities will conduct pipe stress tests.  The purpose of these tests is to make certain that the piping system, which includes gaskets, valves, and fittings do not leak and maintain an acceptable level of safety.  These tests are often required by law: both the timing of the tests and the stresses the pipes are put under.  When laws do not set parameters for pipe stress tests, there should be policies that determine when and at what level the tests should occur.
As any piping system is used, and as it ages, leaks or other mechanical problems can arise which left unnoticed can eventually cause bigger problems.  A pipe stress test is a way to ensure leaks do not exist, and to fix them if the tests indicate leaks are present.  Similarly, when pipes are placed under additional and unusual pressure, they may move which can likewise lead to leakage.  Testing the pipes under unusual pressure can help detect where movement is likely to occur and limit the danger from this occurring. 

What Can Cause Pipe Stresses?

Stresses can come from:
• Additional weight
• Temperature changes
• Changes in pressure in the pipe
• Changes in external pressure
• Vibration
• Wind, seismic shifts, and other acts

Stresses can be caused by sustained loads such as pressure and weight and they are in existence throughout the life of the pipe.  Pipe stress tests are looking for places in the piping system that might fail when the pipes are put in unusual situations—greater pressure than normal, sudden wind sheers, earthquakes—to determine if repairs need to be made before leakage occurs during the course of operation.

Common Examples

Gas and oil pipelines are tested by increasing the pressure to a minimum of 125% of the maximum allowed working pressure.  Often the amount of pressure to be used in a pipe stress test is determined by law.  The test pressure is higher than the pressure used during common operation.  The pipes are often filled with dyed water or oil so leaks can be easily spotted.  The pipes are then pressurized for 30 seconds or more, and the expansion of the pipes is measured. 
If a leak does happen, testers will determine if the problem was due to a failure of the pipe itself or due to a poor seal of the test equipment.  Leaks are not the only way to determine if a pipe is inclined to fail.  Changes in length or diameter also indicate a pipe may not be safe.

If you suspect your pipe system is in need of replacement or repair parts, contact WP Law today.

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