President Biden, USDA Announce Investment in Watershed Infrastructure Projects to Benefit Rural and Historically Underserved Communities in California
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest $420 million in 132 infrastructure projects in 31 states, including an investment in one project in California, including rehabilitating dams, flood prevention, and watershed restoration projects.
DAVIS, Calif., April 26, 2022 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest $420 million in 132 infrastructure projects in 31 states, including an investment in one project in California, including rehabilitating dams, flood prevention, and watershed restoration projects. These projects include rehabilitating dams, flood prevention, and watershed restoration projects, and they are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), building on a $166 million nationwide investment announced earlier this year.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild our infrastructure, create good-paying jobs and build new economic opportunity here in California,” said Carlos Suarez, State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “Our watershed programs help communities build resiliency for the future and deepen our conservation efforts to protect our natural resources. These projects exemplify why this historic investment in our watersheds was needed and the adeptness of our agency to act swiftly.”
Today’s infrastructure announcement includes funding through two programs: the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) Program provides technical and financial assistance for new watershed infrastructure, and the Watershed Rehabilitation Program (REHAB) upgrades existing NRCS dams.
Project in California includes:
- Tulelake Irrigation District – (CA1, OR2) Tulelake Irrigation District (TIO) needs to modernize their irrigation infrastructure. The irrigation system was constructed over a span of a few decades in the early to mid-1900s as development of the Klamath Reclamation Project progressed after authorization in 1905. Other than some relatively minor upgrades and modifications achieved through tight budgetary constraints, there has been very little ability to significantly invest in modernizing their infrastructure since that time. As the environment has changed, the district needs to adapt to the changing conditions not only to best serve their patrons, but also to minimize the impact to the watershed as a whole. Their main object is to improve the irrigation delivery system in order to provide reliable water deliveries to agricultural producers while providing adequate fresh water flows into Tule Lake, a critical migratory bird habit.
In total, NRCS received $918 million of BIL funding to allocate through its watershed programs. In addition to WFPO and REHAB, this includes funds for Emergency Watershed Program (EWP) to help communities recover from natural disasters. NRCS will continue to assist communities as it receives disaster requests.
A full list of projects is available on NRCS’ Bipartisan Infrastructure Law webpage.
How Communities Can Get Help
NRCS encourages communities to engage with their local project sponsors, participate in developing a sound conservation plan that serves to protect and preserve local watersheds, and connect with their local NRCS office to learn more about Watershed Program assistance.
Since 1948, NRCS’ watershed programs have designed and built 11,850 dams, constructed water storage structures, flood management systems, stabilized streambanks, relocated residences, redirected stream flows, re-established wildlife habitat and more to save lives and protect watersheds.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit usda.gov.