News | March 4, 2022

Alaska Communities Receive Funding For Flood Protection And Rural Water Supply Projects Through Infrastructure Investment And Jobs Act

Alaska projects included in nationwide investment of $166.5M by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Seven rural communities in Alaska have received funding for flood protection and water supply infrastructure projects as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). These projects will help communities protect lives, property, and the watershed as a result of climate change and extreme weather events.

The first round of projects funded by the IIJA was announced yesterday by President Joe Biden and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investing more than $166.5M in 108 infrastructure projects in 23 states, including Alaska.

The projects will be implemented by local project sponsors in partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), via the agency’s Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) program.

Nationwide, NRCS prioritized projects in communities heavily impacted by drought and climate change as well as historically underserved and limited resource communities.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to building back better, and this starts with our infrastructure,” Vilsack said. “Protecting our watersheds and saving lives is paramount. These investments in our watershed programs will provide much needed support for communities to build resilience in the face of climate change. We can extend financial assistance to underserved communities that live in constant fear of flooding, help with the effects of severe weather events, and put systems in place that will ensure a climate resilient future to help communities thrive in the years to come.”

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed in November by President Biden, provided $918 million for NRCS watershed programs, which includes the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) Program, Watershed Rehabilitation Program (REHAB) and Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program. Through NRCS watershed programs, NRCS works with eligible sponsors, including state government entities, local municipalities, conservation districts and federally-recognized tribal organizations.

All seven of Alaska’s projects are funded under the WFPO program. Six projects are for the purpose of flood prevention/flood damage reduction located in the communities of: Alakanuk, Golovin, Kotlik, Kwigillingok, Tuntutuliak, and Tununak. These projects will focus on relocation of homes and infrastructure out of the floodplain and away from hazard zones created by riverbank erosion or karsting due to permafrost thaw. One project is for the purpose of rural water supply in the community of Shishmaref.

Each of these projects received funding to conduct a preliminary investigation and feasibility report (PIFR). Other project steps following the PIFR include watershed planning, project design and construction.

A full list of projects funded nationwide is available on NRCS’ Landscape Planning and Watershed Programs webpage.

Requests for Funding
NRCS encourages local sponsors to submit requests for funding through their local NRCS Watershed Program Manager.

On March 31, 2022, NRCS will compile additional requests received and develop a second list of projects to fund. After March 31, 2022, NRCS will continue to review and fund requests as funds are available.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)