Dam Owners Can Benefit From Major Infusions of Federal Funding

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John Wolfhope

Water Resources Program Director

Billions of dollars of new federal loans and grants available to local and state governments are expected to significantly improve safety for communities located near thousands of aging dams across the United States.

Deadlines are approaching for two programs dam owners can consider applying for:

  • Dec. 19, 2023, for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Infrastructure Financing Program
  • Feb. 29, 2024, for two grant programs managed through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Dam Safety Program

Here are key details about each opportunity:

Corps Water Infrastructure Financing Program (CWIFP) Loans

Up to $6.5 billion is available as low-cost, long-term, flexible loans for dam improvement projects. Eligible work includes rehabilitation, repairs and dam removals to reduce flood risk.

  • The financing is available to cities, counties and tribal governments. (This program is not for federally owned dams such as USACE, NRCS, Reclamation, etc.)
  • Helping economically disadvantaged communities is a CWIFP goal.
  • States can apply for loans to set up funds that local entities can tap.
  • Local governments can apply for loans to cover multiple dams with needs totaling at least $20 million.
  • Deadline for Applications: Dec. 19, 2023.

FEMA National Dam Safety Program

FEMA has been authorized to spend $800 million over multiple years in grants for several areas, including Rehabilitation of High Hazard Potential Dams and State Assistance Grants. Applications are being accepted for the next federal fiscal year.

Rehabilitation of High Hazard Potential Dams (HHPD)

  • Each state can designate one agency as administrator of their HHPD grant program (typically the State Dam Safety Program or Emergency Management). The agency can use grant funds directly or pass them through to local governments or other nonfederal dam owners.
  • $185 million is budgeted for the next fiscal year to help with planning/design activities, rehabilitation/repair, and dam removals.
  • Eligible communities must be enrolled in the FEMA flood insurance program.
  • The FEMA grants have a 65/35 cost match.
  • Deadline for Applications: Feb. 29, 2024.

State Assistance Grants

  • These grants are designed for state dam safety regulators to help strengthen their state programs. (This funding is not available to dam owners.)
  • Grants cover dam inspections, development/updating of emergency action plans, and training for state dam safety employees, as well as risk assessments and other activities to help build the capacity of state dam safety programs.
  • States have two years to spend the grants once they’re awarded.
  • $26M is budgeted for the states for FY2024 and each of the next four years.

How Freese and Nichols Can Help You

Our water and funding teams have extensive experience with the technical aspects of dam rehabilitation and repair, as well as identifying and securing funding.

  • Our Water Resource Design engineers have expertise that covers the complete dam safety project life cycle, including risk assessments, planning, design, construction, repair, rehabilitation, removal and state and federal compliance.
  • Our Funding experts have helped public entities secure millions of dollars in grants and loans for projects to improve community safety and enhance infrastructure resilience.

For more information, contact John Wolfhope, john.wolfhope@freese.com, or your local Freese and Nichols contact.

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John Wolfhope, PE, is Freese and Nichols’ Water Resources Program Director.