USDA announces funding for watershed rehabilitation program projects

NRCS receives more than $14M for six sites in West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, WV – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that communities across the nation will benefit from a $262 million investment to rehabilitate dams that provide critical infrastructure and protect public health and safety. West Virginia is one of 26 states to receive funding.

“This investment will protect people and property from floods, help keep our water clean, and ensure that critical structures continue to provide benefits for future generations,” said Jason Weller, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)”Families, businesses and our agriculture economy depend on responsible management of dams and watersheds, and we are continuing to provide that support to these communities.”

As part of the appropriation of funds for the Watershed Rehabilitation Program for FY 14 more than $14 million will assist NRCS with six projects. An additional $1.2 million was made available for 64 assessments in West Virginia.

“NRCS has been anticipating receiving funding since the passage of the Farm Bill earlier this year for the purposes of watershed rehabilitation in West Virginia,” said Kevin Wickey, State Conservationist. “I am very pleased to move forward with the six projects and more than five dozen assessments the funding will allow. Our conservation partners are committed to assisting our efforts to improve these structures.”

Nationwide NRCS has partnered with local communities to construct more than 11,000 dams in 47 states since 1948. These projects provide an estimated $2.2 billion in annual benefits in reduced flooding and erosion damages, recreation, water supplies, and wildlife habitat.

“This is excellent news. It’s good for West Virginia and allows us to move forward with these projects,” said Brian Farkas, State Conservation Agency Executive Director. “We hope it is a sign of more dollars coming our way in the future so we can ensure this critical flood-control infrastructure continues to protect West Virginians for years to come.”

The West Virginia project list includes: Upper Deckers Creek 1, Brush Creek 15, Brush Creek 14, Brush Creek 9, Wheeling Creek 25, and Potomac-New Creek-Whites Run 17. The Upper Deckers Creek 1 funding is for design and construction costs; while planning costs are funded for the additional five projects.

The Watershed Rehabilitation Program was established by Congress through an amendment of the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act of 1954 (Public Law 83-566). The rehabilitation of the structures is needed to address updated national and state public health and safety requirements since the structures where built.