ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture will invest $95.9 million for 19 infrastructure projects in Arkansas as part of a $420 million overall investment in 31 states, a press release announced.

According to the release, the projects will include rehabilitating dams, flood prevention, and watershed restoration projects. 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.

“These investments will help protect communities and their residents here in Arkansas that are impacted by floods, natural disasters, and other watershed-scale resource concerns,” Cosby said. “For example, our project here will benefit three communities with residents who not only faced socioeconomic challenges but those from flooding and the other impacts of severe weather. This project and others across Arkansas will create a more climate-resilient future and will help these communities thrive in the years to come.”

As part of this project, NRCS is reportedly working with the Cities of Helena-West Helena, Lake View, and Marvell collectively; the Cities of Forrest City, Haynes, and Marianna collectively; the Cities of Hughes and Jennette collectively; the City of Pine Bluff; and the City of Camden for potential PL-566 projects.

USDA says flooding has caused significant problems for these historically underserved communities, including deterioration of highways, streets and bridges. It hopes these projects will alleviate flooding of suburban and rural homes, cropland, and grazing lands as well as improve wildlife habitat and water quality. 

“These projects create good-paying jobs and improve economies in rural America. USDA offers several watershed programs that help communities rebuild after natural disasters and build resilience,” said Mike Sulivan, Arkansas state conservationist. “We encourage communities to connect with their local NRCS office to learn more about Watershed Program assistance.”

NRCS is also working with the Arkansas Black Mayors Association, East Arkansas Enterprise Community, conservation districts and others on these projects. A full list of Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) Program projects is available on NRCS’ Bipartisan Infrastructure Law webpage.

The release adds in total, NRCS received $918 million of BIL funding to allocate through its watershed programs. In addition to WFPO, NRCS is also using the Watershed Rehabilitation Program (REHAB) to upgrade existing NRCS dams and the Emergency Watershed Program (EWP) to help communities recover from natural disasters. NRCS will continue to assist communities as it receives disaster requests. NRCS will continue to review additional requests and compile a third round of BIL watershed funding as funds are available.