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Texas will receive $22.8 million to invest in post-disaster recovery and/or the rehabilitation of aging dams in fiscal year 2016, said Salvador Salinas, state conservationist. Texas is among 19 states to receive funding.
“The Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program is vital to communities repairing damage and making improvements to reduce future damage from natural disasters,” said Salinas. “USDA and NRCS remain committed to providing the tools and resources to help local governments restore watersheds and protect communities from the aftermath of devastating natural disasters like the flooding damage that occurred in multiple locations across the state last May and October.”
Mother Neff State Park is an example of one of the 55 EWP projects being funded in 17 counties across the state. EWP funds will be provided to assist Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with the removal of debris blocking the bridge and correction of severe bank erosion caused by severe thunderstorms and flooding in May 2015 when almost 10 inches of rain fell in a 12-hour period. The bridge in the State Park over the Leon River is nearly fully blocked with debris and could endanger the bridge and road in future rainfall events.
Overall, NRCS will invest $93 million in Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program assistance to help state and local governments carry out much needed recovery projects to address damage caused by floods, hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters.
The announcement also includes $10.4 million in Watershed Rehabilitation Program funding to help communities rehabilitate aging dams that protect lives, property and infrastructure like drinking water in rural communities downstream. Of this, $5.6 million will be used in Texas to complete the design and construction of four watershed rehabilitation projects in Ellis, Gillespie and Williamson counties.
USDA watershed projects in Texas provide residents with $151 million in annual benefits statewide. Since 1948, USDA has helped local governments construct nearly 1,953 dams in Texas to help prevent flooding and erosion damage, provide recreation opportunities, improve water supplies for drinking and irrigation, and create habitat for wildlife.
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