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News Release

President Biden, USDA Announce Investment in Two Watershed Infrastructure Projects to Benefit Rural and Historically Underserved Communities Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, PA, April 22, 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 a $3.85 million investment in two projects in Pennsylvania. including rehabilitating dams, flood prevention, and watershed restoration projects. These projects 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 Pennsylvania,” said Denise Coleman, State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “Our watershed programs help communities rebuild after natural disasters and prepare for future events. 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. 

Projects in Pennsylvania include:

  • Middle Creek Watershed Project, PA-637 Walker Lake: Owned and operated by Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Walker Lake Dam provides recreation and flood protection for the Middleburg area of Snyder County, PA. Rehabilitation is planned for the existing dam to meet current criteria for a high potential hazard dam and to extend the service life.
  • Little Schuylkill River Watershed Project: The five dams enrolled within the REHAB Program are owned and operated by the Schuylkill County Commissioners and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Pennsylvania NRCS is generally taking a watershed approach to evaluating how to rehabilitate the existing infrastructure. All five dams in the Little Schuylkill River Watershed are being considered in the same planning effort. Four of the five dams are in Pennsylvania’s top 25 dams for Failure Index. One dam has seen flow through the auxiliary spillway. These dams work together to provide flood protection for the Tamaqua and New Ringgold areas of Schuylkill County.

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. 

More Information 

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.