USDA will spend $262 million on rehabilitating dams per the 2014 Farm Bill, USDA said Friday.
The funding, which will provide rehabilitation assistance for 150 dams in 26 states, can be used for planning, design or construction. The outlay is detailed in the 2014 Farm Bill, which increased the typical annual investment in watershed rehabilitation by almost 21-fold to recognize infrastructure's role in flood management, water supply, and agricultural productivity.
Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Jason Weller and Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, recognized the announcement in Oklahoma, where the first full watershed plan and structure was completed by USDA on private lands in the 1940s.
"This investment will protect people and property from floods, help keep our water clean, and ensure that critical structures continue to provide benefits for future generations," Weller said. "Families, businesses and our agriculture economy depend on responsible management of dams and watersheds, and we are continuing to provide that support to these communities."
From the 1940s through the 1970s, local communities using NRCS assistance constructed more than 11,800 dams in 47 states. These watershed management projects provide an estimated $2.2 billion in annual benefits in reduced flooding and erosion damages, and improved recreation, water supplies and wildlife habitat for an estimated 47 million Americans.
In addition to the 150 dam projects that will be funded, 500 dam sites will be assessed for safety through NRCS' Watershed Rehabilitation Program.
The projects were identified based on recent rehabilitation investments and the potential risks to life and property if a dam failure occurred. Overall, an estimated 250,000 people will benefit as a result of improved flood protection made possible by these rehabilitated dams.
"These funds will go a long way towards improving the safety and continued benefits provided by these watershed structures," Weller said. "We will work closely with the local project sponsors to ensure that these dams continue to protect and provide water for communities and agriculture."
For a complete list of the projects, please visit the FY 2014 Watershed Rehabilitation Projects Funding Table page.