Skip Navigation

News Release

USDA announces investment in watershed infrastructure projects to benefit rural and historically underserved communities in Rhode Island

Contact:
Diane Petit, Public Affairs Specialist
413-835-1276


A saltmarsh in Tiverton, Rhode Island

WARWICK, RI, April 28, 2022 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest $420 million in 132 infrastructure projects such as rehabilitating dams, flood prevention, and watershed restoration projects in 31 states, including $33 million for eight projects in Rhode Island. 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 Rhode Island,” said Phou Vongkhamdy, 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.”

The 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 Rhode Island include:

Blackstone River watershed – Funds will be used to perform a preliminary feasibility report on the Blackstone River Watershed in Manville, RI to address flooding concerns, improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

Bradley Brook watershed – Funds will be used to perform a preliminary feasibility report on the Bradley Brook Watershed in Middletown, RI to address flooding concerns, improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

Deep Pond and School House Pond watershed – Funds will be used for a watershed project in the Deep Pond and School House Pond Watershed in Charlestown, RI to address erosion control, water quality, and address needed habitat improvement caused by flooding.

Palmer River watershed – Funds will be used to perform a preliminary feasibility report on the Palmer River Watershed in Warren, RI to address flooding concerns, improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

Paradise Brook and Maidford River watershed – Funds will be used to perform a preliminary feasibility report on the Paradise Brook and Maidford River Watershed in East Middletown, RI to address flooding concerns, improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

Pawtuxet River watershed – Funds will be used to perform a preliminary feasibility report on the Pawtuxet River Watershed in Warwick, RI to address flooding concerns, improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

Runnin’s River watershed – Funds will be used to perform a preliminary feasibility report on the Runnin's River Watershed in East Providence, RI to address flooding concerns, improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

Winnapaug and Salt Ponds watershed – Funds will be used for a watershed project in the Winnapaug and Salt Ponds Watershed in Westerly, RI to address flooding concerns, improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

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.

NRCS is a federal agency that works hand-in-hand with conservation districts and the people of Rhode Island to improve and protect soil, water and other natural resources.