The 2014 Farm Bill increased the typical annual investment in watershed rehabilitation by almost 21 fold, recognizing the critical role of these structures in flood management, water supply, and agricultural productivity.
“This investment will protect people and ensure that these critical structures continue to provide benefits for future generations,” said Jason Weller, chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
“Homes, businesses and agriculture are depending on responsible management of the dams and overall watersheds, and NRCS is continuing to provide that support to these communities.”
From the 1940s through the 1970s, local communities using NRCS assistance constructed more than 11,800 dams in 47 states. These watershed management projects provide an estimated $2.2 billion in annual benefits in reduced flooding and erosion damages, and improved recreation, water supplies and wildlife habitat for roughly 47 million people.
More than 150 dams in 26 states will receive rehabilitation assistance for planning, design or construction through NRCS’ Watershed Rehabilitation Program.
The program will also enable 500 dam sites to be assessed for safety. The projects were identified based on recent rehabilitation investments and the potential risks to life and property if a dam failure occurred. Overall, about 250,000 people will benefit as a result of improved flood protection made possible by these rehabilitated dams. The projects in Tennessee, through partnerships with the Tennessee department of Agriculture and the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts include:
n Dam Assessments for 46 watershed structures throughout the state
n Providing Design And Construction funds for:
n Mary’s Creek Watershed Structure 9
n Pine Creek Watershed Structure 4.
“Investing in the safety of watershed structures will provide long term benefits to local communities in Tennessee,” said Kevin Brown, NRCS state conservationist in Tennessee. “We will work closely with local project sponsors to ensure these watershed dams remain safe, function as designed, and continue to provide value for communities and agriculture.”
For more information, visit our Watershed Rehabilitation webpage or your local USDA service center.
The 2014 Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America.