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NRCS Watershed Rehabilitation

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Presentation on theme: "NRCS Watershed Rehabilitation"— Presentation transcript:

1 NRCS Watershed Rehabilitation
Brian Schwebke, P.E., NRCS NM State Conservation Engineer

2 Construction of NRCS Watershed Dams
Authorization for the construction of the dams came from: Public Law (Flood Control Act of 1944) and Public Law (Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act of 1953).

3 The “Small Watershed Program”
PL83-566 Congress made it clear that the authority provided under PL should be used to “supplement both our present agricultural soil and water conservation programs and our programs for development and flood protection of major river valleys. It will bridge the gap between these two types of programs and greatly enhance the ultimate benefits of both” (House of Representatives Report No. 1140, 83d Congress, 2d Session). Authorized technical and financial assistance to local watershed organizations for planning and carrying out watershed projects.

4 The “Small Watershed Program” Limitations and Authorized Purposes
Limited to a watershed size of 250,000 acres and a reservoir capacity of 25,000 acre-feet total. Potential purposes: Watershed Protection Flood Prevention Agricultural Water Management Nonagricultural Water Management Groundwater Recharge

5 The “Small Watershed Program”
Since 1948, Local Sponsors with NRCS assistance has helped to construct 11,800 dams in 47 states. NM currently has 102 dams and 12 structures on NRCS inventory 82 dams are jurisdictional size by NM State Law 101 are inventory size by the National Inventory of Dams

6 Sponsoring Local Organizations
Sponsor Roles short term/long term Short term Request initial assistance Provide local leadership Secure landrights Short term financial obligations Long term Carry out O&M Long term financial obligations

7 Dam Ownership In contrast to many other federal water resource projects NRCS Watershed projects are federally assisted not federally owned. The sponsors are the owners.

8 Watershed Rehabilitation NRCS Nationwide
Approximately 4300 dams Nationwide have reached or exceeded their design life (typically 50 years). Estimated cost to rehabilitate these dams is approximately $19 billion dollars. The average cost to rehabilitate a dam is approximately $4.4 million dollars (this includes planning, design and construction). By 2019 NRCS expects this cost to rise to approximately $8.8 million dollars each. The average number of rehabilitation projects completed per year is 11.

9 Watershed Rehabilitation 2014
The 2014 Farm Bill provided a new funding opportunity to allow for a greater number of watershed rehabilitation projects than in past years. Opportunity to fund the project on using a more holistic approach.

10 Watershed Rehabilitation 2014
This funding approach serves both sponsors and government interests.  Sponsors are able to budget their finances to begin and complete the project, and the agency is able to report accomplishments and yield greater returns on investments since delaying and extending the implementation of a project costs both the agency and the sponsor financial resources.

11 Watershed Rehabilitation 2014
Combined funding request for 2014 was approximately $498 million. $73 million was allocated to 150 projects in 23 states. NM received $600,000 for two projects.

12 Benefits of Watershed Rehabilitation
Dams provide benefits in water supply, irrigation, flood control, improving water quality, sediment control and energy, and this money will help ensure their stability for future generations. In addition, these projects will enhance job creation in their local communities. Watershed projects across the nation provide an estimated $2.2 billion in annual benefits in reduced flooding and erosion damages, and improved recreation, water supplies and wildlife habitat for an estimated 47 million Americans.

13 Available Assistance Dam Assessments
The intent of an assessment report is to assess the condition of the dam and the potential scope of any needed rehabilitation and provide the sponsor with an overall assessment of the condition of their dam in order to determine whether to proceed with the rehabilitation. The scope of an assessment should not include work that will be developed in planning or design. respectfully, the intent and scope of an assessment report is, “…to provide the sponsor with information to determine whether to proceed with the rehabilitation of their aging dam.” Additionally, the “assessments will provide local sponsors with data regarding the condition of a dam, risks to the public should a dam fail, and estimated rehabilitation alternatives and costs.”

14 Available Assistance Planning
A watershed plan is developed for each project that includes environmental impacts, costs and benefits, planned conservation practices and the responsibilities of involved parties. A variety of agencies and organizations can assist local project sponsors in plan development. Watershed project sponsors represent local interest in federally assisted watershed projects. Sponsors request assistance from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and enter into agreements based upon a watershed plan.

15 Available Assistance Design and Construction
NRCS may provide technical and or financial assistance in the design of and construction of rehabilitation to watershed dams.

16 Project Funding NRCS pays 100% of Dam Assessments up to $20,000
NRCS pays 100% of planning and design Technical Assistance Construction of total project cost is shared NRCS 65% and Sponsors 35% Sponsors may be allowed in-kind credit for certain tasks.

17 Project Funding Sponsors are responsible for 100% of maintenance costs
NRCS may provide technical assistance (if resources are available) Repairs If deemed a repair outside of normal wear and tear NRCS may be able to provide funding (if available)

18 New Opportunities for Watershed Rehabilitation Projects
Last year, NRCS made changes to the watershed rehabilitation program to allow for projects that helped increase water supply. Half of this year’s dam assessments, including 15 in drought stricken California, will assess the feasibility of using watershed rehabilitation funds to mitigate drought Over 80 projects in the Planning stage can consider increasing water storage capacity when the dam is being rehabilitated, thereby bolstering resilience to climate change for their local communities.  Planning of these projects also sets the stage for Design and Construction, projected to protect the lives and property of more than 119,000 people.

19 Dam Safety In addition to dam rehabilitation assistance, NRCS sustains a robust dam safety program. Currently, NRCS is developing geospatial dam monitoring tools to help with dam safety. NRCS GeoObserver for Dams will help NRCS engineers keep up-to-date information for the National Inventory of Dams. NRCS DamWatch will provide NRCS engineers and project sponsors with web-based monitoring of dams during rainfall, snowmelt, or seismic events.

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