Watershed rehabilitation program funding critical to public health and safety
Lexington, July 22, 2014– Communities across the nation, including several in Kentucky will benefit from a $262 million investment to rehabilitate dams that provide critical infrastructure and protect public health and safety.
The 2014 Farm Bill increased the annual investment in watershed rehabilitation by almost 21 fold, recognizing the critical role of these structures in flood management, water supply, and agricultural productivity.
“This investment will protect people and ensure that these critical structures continue to provide benefits for future generations,” said Jason Weller, chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “Homes, businesses and agriculture are depending on responsible management of the dams and overall watersheds, and NRCS is 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 roughly 47 million people.
More than 150 dams in 26 states will receive rehabilitation assistance for planning, design or construction through NRCS’ Watershed Rehabilitation Program. In Kentucky, Madison and Marshall counties were approved for $850,000 to begin watershed rehabilitation planning on two Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act (PL-566) dams. These projects include:
• Red Lick Creek
• East Fork Clarks River
This program funding is in addition to $40,000 recently approved to complete two watershed assessments in Monroe and Bath counties, as well as $700,000 approved to complete the Watershed Plan and Environmental Assessment to upgrade a water supply lake in Madison County.
The assessment projects were identified based on recent rehabilitation investments and the potential risks to life and property if a dam failure occurred. Nationwide, about 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 to helping ensure 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 more information, visit the Watershed Rehabilitation webpage or local USDA service center.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).
Watershed Program Contact: Jack Kuhn, 859-224-7350
News Release Contact: Christy Morgan, 859-224-7363