Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday announced $61.6 million in federal funding for 16 flood risk reduction projects throughout the state as part of the Watershed Projects Grant Program: Local and Regional – Round 1. The Round 1 funding opportunity is part of the state’s Action Plan to spend $1.2 billion in federal Community Development Block Grant Mitigation funds.
“Last week, heavy rains once again inundated flood-weary communities throughout Louisiana, underscoring our state’s increasing flood risk and urgent need for better flood risk reduction. Today, I’m heartened to announce relief is on the way,” Gov. Edwards said. “Through the Louisiana Watershed Initiative, we are working to fight flooding on a large scale with immediate and long-term solutions. These projects move us in the right direction.”
Today’s funding announcement follows the state’s March award of $163 million for 15 projects and programs designed to address similar mitigation needs throughout the state. Combined, the awards total $224 million awarded to 31 flood mitigation projects throughout Louisiana since the state received $1.2 billion in federal mitigation funding in September.
This summer, regional steering committees will make project recommendations for the remaining $40 million in Round 1 funding.
In addition, the state has directed more than $100 million to buyout and elevation programs and an early launch of Round 2 as part of a Design Support Pilot. The buyouts and elevations will occur in flood-prone areas of Lake Charles, Denham Springs, Washington Parish, West Monroe and Scott as part of the LWI nonstructural program. The Design Support Pilot will capitalize on opportunities associated with applications submitted to Round 1, where capacity or technical difficulties created hardship, and where investment in design support can enhance local project effectiveness.
With these announcements, LWI project awards will total more than $450 million within the first year after the state received federal mitigation funding.
Members of the five state agencies represented on the Council on Watershed Management scored the Round 1 projects through a competitive process based on evaluation and scoring criteria and program policies and procedures. The awarded projects align with the long-term resilience objectives of LWI and the state’s $1.2 billion CDBG-MIT Action Plan.
Future rounds of the Watershed Projects Grant Program will benefit from predictive watershed modeling tools in development and enhanced data collection capabilities, as part of the Watershed Monitoring, Mapping and Modeling Program, as well as regional watershed-based floodplain management planning, as part of the Regional Capacity Building Program.
The 16 awarded projects and requested funding amounts are as follows: