The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is encouraging local sponsors to submit project requests for funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers several programs to help communities improve land and water resources within watersheds as well as relieve imminent hazards to life and property created by a natural disaster.
Programs include the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program (WFPO), Watershed Rehabilitation Program (REHAB) and Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP).
Funding is available for new projects as well as those already submitted to NRCS. Additionally, NRCS will consider projects in historically underserved communities that directly benefit limited resource areas or socially disadvantaged communities. NRCS will continue to review as funding is available.
Eligible project sponsors include state government entities, local municipalities, conservation districts, and federally recognized tribal organizations.
For WFPO project requests in Iowa:
- The Work Plan will have to be updated if it is older than five years and has not been updated in the past five years. Updating the Work Plan includes a review of the economics, permitting requirements, cultural resources, and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
- Sponsors must be willing to exercise control of the downstream breach inundation area for all dams. This is a public safety measure. The ability to control the land use downstream of a dam is necessary to prevent development in the breach inundation area, which would result in conversion from a Low Hazard Potential dam to a Significant or High Hazard Potential dam.
- The Sponsoring Local Organization must have at least one member with taxing authority and eminent domain authority.
For REHAB project requests in Iowa:
- The maintenance must be up to date.
- A watershed rehabilitation plan EA (Environmental Assessment) or EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) must be completed to qualify for funding.
- As with the original Work Plan, the Local Sponsoring Organization must have at least one member with taxing authority and eminent domain authority.
- Sponsors may receive up to 65% of the total project cost.
- Currently, only sites that have gone from Low Hazard Potential to Significant or High Hazard Potential are being funded.
Sponsors are encouraged to reach out to their state’s NRCS Watershed Program Manager with watershed concerns as soon as possible to ensure their project request is in the funding queue for consideration. State contacts can be found on the links below:
Fact sheets, trainings and other resources are available on the NRCS website.