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News Release

NRCS Invests in 48 Projects in Local Watersheds to Protect Communities and Vital Infrastructure

Release No.: 0000001.18

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Auburn, Ala., October 6, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Alabama plans to invest in one new multi-year project and activities that aim to build vital infrastructure while conserving natural resources through the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program.

Alabama is among 20 states and territories that will receive funding for 48 new projects from NRCS through the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program. NRCS works with local groups to help prevent floods, protect watersheds, improve agricultural water management and enhance wildlife habitat through this program.

NRCS plans to invest a total of $150 million in the 48 projects in these states and territories —Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Northern Mariana Islands, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah and West Virginia.

Additionally, this investment includes funding for work on 41 existing projects in 11 states. The states are Arkansas, Iowa, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia. (Please include language if yours in one of these states, but refrain from using language about errors or remedial in your news release).

“Protecting lives and property and improving natural resources within our state’s watersheds are critical,” NRCS State Conservationist Ben Malone said. “Watersheds are nature’s natural boundaries. NRCS has made much progress in reducing damages caused by flooding, sedimentation and erosion in watersheds nationwide because of our proactive approach to program implementation once we obtain Congressional funding.”

NRCS works with project sponsors, such as conservation districts, local governments and American Indian tribes. The projects take place in smaller watersheds that cover 250,000 acres or less.

The projects are owned by the local sponsors. NRCS serves as the primary technical adviser to project sponsors because of its engineering and environmental expertise and ability to deliver science-base technology and knowledge about the watershed’s natural resources and ecosystem.

The new multi-year project for Alabama includes:

•           The Irrigation Efficiency Project - This project will provide a PL 566 Watershed plan to address irrigation needs in Alabama watersheds that have high potential of irrigation success. Studies conducted by the Alabama Irrigation Initiative, which includes land-grant institutions Auburn University and other partners, show that irrigation or the lack thereof has been the main contributor to the historical decrease in agricultural crop production in Alabama. Less than 10 percent of Alabama’s cultivated cropland is irrigated and less than 2% of Alabama farmland is irrigated.

According to the Alabama Irrigation Initiative, if Alabama could provide only its own corn needs, it would have a $690 million direct rural impact and boost the local rural economy over $1.8 billion.  Over 26,000 jobs could be created.  If 50% of Alabama’s current row crop acreage were irrigated, the statewide impact would be over $200 million per year.

The project’s implementation will include water resource management practices such as center pivots, irrigation reservoir, micro-irrigation, pipeline, pump plant, and wells. NRCS will work with the project’s sponsor, The Alabama Soil and Water Conservation Committee (SWCC) and the Alabama Irrigation Initiative to address these irrigation needs.

A full list of projects is available here.

Since 1947, the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program has helped communities address critical needs on flood control, water management, watershed protection and development. This strong federal, state and local partnership has resulted in the construction of more than 2,000 watershed projects that help communities in every state in the nation and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. These watershed projects reflect a federal investment of about $6.2 billion and deliver an estimated $2.2 billion in average annual benefits nationwide.

“History has shown us that smart, proactive investment in small watershed and flood prevention projects yield immense benefits for landowners, communities and taxpayers,” Malone said. “These dams have reduced flooding of businesses, homes, roads and agricultural lands. They have provided dependable water supplies for agricultural, residential and industrial use. They have also increased opportunities for fishing, hiking, birdwatching and the enjoyment of open space.”

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