Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest $420 million in 132 infrastructure projects in 31 states, including Ohio. 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. In total, more than $7.4 million will be invested in five Ohio watershed infrastructure projects through the USDA Watershed Rehabilitation Program (REHAB) and the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) Program.
“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 Ohio,” said John Wilson, 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.”
Through the first and second round of funding, investments in Ohio watershed infrastructure include four REHAB projects, which will focus on upgrading existing NRCS dams, as well as one WFPO project, in which NRCS will provide technical and financial assistance for new watershed infrastructure.
Margaret Creek Structure #6 (Fox Lake): First round infrastructure funding will enable the Margaret Creek Conservancy District to bring the structure into compliance with safety regulations and restore the original flood protection benefits of the structure.
Margaret Creek Structure #1 (Meeks Lake): First round infrastructure funding will enable the Margaret Creek Conservancy District to raise the embankment of the structure, armor the spillway, and extend the life of the structure by another 50 years.
Upper Hocking Structure #3: First and second round infrastructure funding will enable NRCS and the Hunter’s Run Conservancy District to study the rehabilitation needs of this aging dam and develop a plan for extending the watershed’s flood protection benefits.
Upper Rush Creek: First round infrastructure funding will enable Rush Creek Conservancy District to construct mine drainage treatment structures to improve water quality in the watershed, which is impaired by acidity, metals and other mine drainage contaminants.
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.