The Lower James River Implementation Project

The goal of the Lower James River Implementation Project is to restore and protect the water quality of the Lower James River and its watershed. The project aims to reduce the nutrient, sediment, and bacteria loads to the James River, along with its tributaries & lakes within the watershed.

The Lower James River Implementation Project aims to reduce these nonpoint source pollutants through the installation of best management practices (BMPs). BMPs are practices that have been determined to be the most effective and practical means of preventing or reducing the movement of sediment, nutrients, or other pollutants from the land to surface or ground water. BMP installations will improve water quality standards, improve upland and aquatic habitat, and improve the recreational uses of the water bodies.

The Lower James project generates the majority of its funding through Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, but can also benefit from other federal, state, and local dollars to cost-share the installation of Best Management Practices throughout the watershed.

Click here to read about the EPA 319 Grant Program

Project Area
The Lower James River watershed includes drainage from 12 counties
in southeast South Dakota and contains approximately 2.5 million acres
(3,906 mi2 or 10,350 km2).

Land use map for the Lower James River Watershed

On a larger scale, the Lower James River watershed is also located within the northwestern edge of the Mississippi River watershed; where NRCS recently began the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative to address
nutrient loading in the Gulf of Mexico.

Click here to read about the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative

Lower James BMPs

Riparian Buffers
Riparian areas can be thought of as land situated along the bank of a stream or other body of water where vegetation is strongly influenced by the presence of water.  These zones are typically the most environmentally sensitive areas of a watershed and are an essential part of a healthy stream.  Loss of riparian vegetation by either crop production or overgrazing can cause streambank erosion, decrease water infiltration, and increase the amount of runoff and nutrients entering the water.  By buffering these riparian zones, we can improve water quality by trapping sediment, filtering nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus before they reach the surface water, and provide valuable habitat and corridors for fish and wildlife.

The Lower James River Riparian Area Management (RAM) Program is designed to provide landowners an incentive to establish buffer strips along the James River and its tributaries. Landowners are encouraged to enroll land adjacent and parallel to a perennial stream or other waterbody into the USDA Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP). Landowners can then enroll additional acres that do not qualify for CCRP into the RAM program.

Landowners throughout the James River watershed can also take advantage of the JRWDD Enhanced CRP Program. This initiative consists of a one-time, up-front, 40% incentive payment of the total CRP base-rate amount for certain Continuous CRP practices designed to improve water quality in the creeks and streams of the James River watershed. Program dollars can be used on both new enrollments and re-enrollments. Contact your local NRCS office or the JRWDD for more information.

Filter Strips Conservation Practice Job Sheet

Filter Strips as Wildlife Habitat Job Sheet

Grassed waterways
Grassed waterways are strips of grass seeded in areas of cropland where water concentrates or flows off a field. The waterway is usually shaped and graded along the natural drainageway to carry surface water at a nonerosive velocity to a stable outlet. The vegetation will trap the sediment washed from the cropland and adsorb some of the chemicals and nutrients in the runoff water.

Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS

Grassed Waterway Conservation Practice Job Sheet

Grassed Waterways as Wildlife Habitat Job Sheet

Comprehensive Nutrient Management Planning
A comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP) is a resource management system that addresses the resource concerns associated with a manure management system and all the land where the manure will be applied.

Animal feeding operations (AFO) that do not properly contain and utilize their manure resources can have negative impacts on surface and ground water quality within the James River watershed. Bacteria contained in manure can enter surface waters via runoff and make those waters unsafe for recreation and drinking. Nutrients contained in the manure can also impair water quality.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is the principal program of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for delivering financial assistance to private landowners interested in installing an Animal Waste Management System (AWMS) or other approved alternative. In addition to EQIP, funding may also be secured through the Lower James River Implementation Project to assist with overall project costs.

Livestock producers can also benefit from the implementation of a Nutrient Management Plan (NMP). A NMP is designed to use commercial fertilizer and/or manure to effectively provide needed crop nutrients, while protecting against the potential adverse impacts of manure, erosion, and organic byproducts on water quality. The purpose is to meet the nutrient needs of the crop to be grown, while minimizing the loss of nutrients to surface and ground water. When such a plan is designed for animal feeding operations (AFO) it may be termed a “manure management plan.”


David Kringen
Project Coordinator
Lower James River Implementation Project
West Havens Plaza
721 West Havens Avenue
Mitchell, SD 57301
(605) 990-5353