USDA's $7.6M aids 2 flood projects

Money supports improvements in Jackson, Independence, Greene counties

The United States Department of Agriculture will fund $7.6 million worth of improvements to two Arkansas watershed districts to help reduce flooding.

The Departee Creek Watershed Improvement District in Jackson and Independence counties will receive $5.7 million from the department's Natural Resources Conservation Service to create water control structures and conservation easements, U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford said.

The Jonesboro Republican said the project also aims to alleviate flooding of cropland and grazing lands as well as improve wildlife habitat and water quality.

"From meetings with the producers to conservation districts to local municipalities, for years my office has been working hard on the Departee Creek project in particular," Crawford said in a news release.

Big Slough, in Greene County, will receive $1.9 million to reduce floodwater damage to agricultural, residential and business areas and prevent sediment loading in the Big Slough Drainage Ditch and its tributaries.

"Floods put a significant strain on Arkansas' communities and severely impact agricultural producers in our state," Sen. John Boozman said in a news release. "I am pleased to support these investments which will improve water infrastructure control measures to ease the threat of flooding to Arkansas' rich farmlands."

The two plans are part of the department's 48 new flood-reduction projects proposed in 19 states and the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Islands.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service will invest $150 million in its projects and will work with conservation districts, local governments and American Indian tribes.

"History has shown us that smart, proactive investment in small watershed and flood prevention projects yield immense benefits for landowners, communities and taxpayers," National Resources Conservation Service acting chief Leonard Jordan said in a statement released Friday. "These dams have reduced flooding of businesses, homes, roads and agricultural lands. They have provided dependable water supplies for agricultural, residential and industrial use."

Other states that will receive flood-reduction funding are Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah and West Virginia.

State Desk on 10/07/2017