USDA invests $73M to fund critical dam rehabilitations, assessments in 23 states

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that it will be investing $73 million this year to rehabilitate and assess dams in about 150 projects in 23 states in an effort to ensure that this critical infrastructure is protecting Americans.

WASHINGTON, DC, April 9, 2015 -- Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it will be investing $73 million this year to rehabilitate and assess dams across the nation in an effort to ensure that this critical infrastructure is protecting Americans from harm, securing public health and expanding water supplies in drought-affected areas. About 150 projects and assessments in 23 states will be funded.

"Millions of people depend on watersheds and dams for protection from floods and to provide safe drinking water. With a changing and shifting climate, dams are also vital to holding stores of water for use during drought," said Secretary Tom Vilsack. "By investing in this critical infrastructure, we are helping to ensure a safe, resilient environment for agricultural producers and residents of rural America."

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Assistant Chief Kirk Hanlin highlighted this round of watershed rehabilitation funding today near the city of Alpine, Utah, where work is planned on Tibble Fork Dam to increase the water supply and improve flood damage protection for surrounding communities. This project is one of 19 in Utah that will receive nearly $30 million in overall funding.

Last year, NRCS made changes to the Watershed Rehabilitation Program (WRP) to allow for projects that also help increase water supply (see "USDA to repair dams in 26 states through watershed rehabilitation funding"). Half of this year's dam assessments, including 15 in drought-stricken California, will assess the feasibility of using watershed rehabilitation funds to mitigate drought.

This investment follows the Obama Administration's call last year for federal agencies to increase investments in infrastructure to accelerate economic growth, create jobs and improve the competitiveness of the American economy. There are nearly 12,000 dams across the United States. In addition to nearly 50 rehabilitation projects, NRCS is conducting 100 dam assessments in 13 states through the WRP.

For a complete list of 2015 projects, click here.

See also:

"American Rivers reports 72 dam removals for 2014, sets goal to 75 for 2015"

"New studies shed light on effects of dam removal on waterway landscapes"

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