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News Release

USDA announces funding for floodplain easements on flood-prone properties on Belfield Drive, Johnston

Diane Petit, Public Affairs Officer

(left to right)NRCS Rhode Island State Conservationist Phou Vongkhamdy, Johnston Mayor Joe Polisena and Rhode Island Association of Conservation Districts President Dick Went sign an agreement for Emergency Watershed Protection program funding for flooding on Belfield Drive in Johnston, RI.

WARWICK, RI (June 17, 2019) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Rhode Island has received funding for the purchase of floodplain easements on properties affected by recurring flooding on Belfield Drive in Johnston.

The federal funding was requested through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) program. EWP authorizes NRCS to purchase permanent easements on eligible lands and restore the floodplain functions in the easement area to their natural conditions. Participation is voluntary.

Restoration may include both structural and non-structural measures to bring back floodplain functions such as water storage and flow, control erosion, and establish native vegetation.

“Floodplains can provide significant protection from flood damages to downstream landowners,” said Phou Vongkhamdy, Rhode Island State Conservationist for NRCS. “These easements would significantly limit future uses of land in this floodplain area to make it available to store flood water.”

Only land in the affected section of Belfield Drive in Johnston is eligible for floodplain easement enrollment with this funding and must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Lands within a floodplain damaged by flooding at least once within the previous calendar year or that have been subject to flood damage at least twice within the previous 10 years.
  • Other lands within the floodplain that would contribute to the restoration of flood storage and flow, provide for control of erosion, or that would improve the practical management of the floodplain easement.

NRCS has entered into an agreement with the Rhode Island Association of Conservation Districts (RIACD), which will accept applications from eligible landowners, secure appraisals and acquire land. The RIACD will contact eligible landowners with information on how to apply for EWP and work with them through the application, appraisal and acquisition process, if they choose to participate.

“RIACD looks forward to helping Belfield Drive residents get relief from flooding problems that have plagued them for a number of years," said Richard Went, RIACD President.

NRCS is a federal agency that works hand-in-hand with conservation districts and the people of Rhode Island to improve and protect soil, water and other natural resources.