The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (AGM) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the availability of funding for the Community Resiliency Training program. The funding will allow County Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) and Regional Watershed Coalitions to provide community and municipality-based training events to help communities increase resiliency to future flooding and prevent outbreaks of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in high-risk waterbodies.
State Agriculture Commissioner Ball said, “New York State, and areas across the country, have experienced a tremendous amount of rainfall this season. With communities in New York—from the Finger Lakes to the North Country—facing major flooding risks, these training grants are an invaluable resource to our Soil and Water Conservation Districts, who are on the front lines of ensuring we reduce the impacts of flooding and the potential for HABs in our waterways. These efforts will not only help protect our communities but will also help sustain the agricultural industry.”
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “DEC is glad to partner with the Department of Agriculture and Markets on this advanced training program to improve community flood resiliency while reducing polluted runoff and reconnecting broken aquatic habitats. This state-of-the-art program was developed in the aftermath of recent major flood events. This initiative is a prime example of how New York’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts serve on the front lines of efforts to abate harmful algae blooms, slow water on the landscape, foster natural stream systems, and improve our ecology – a win-win all around.”
AGM is currently accepting applications for the program on a rolling basis through February 2022 or until funds are exhausted. New York State Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD), working in partnership with regional watershed groups and coalitions, are eligible.
SWCD’s who receive grant funding will host about 40 training programs for municipalities across the State. Training will focus on: Post Flood Emergency Stream Intervention, North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative (NAACC) culvert assessments and proper roadside ditch maintenance/stabilization methods.
Post Flood Emergency Stream Intervention Program
Increased flooding events have presented significant flood response challenges for state agencies, county and local municipal governments throughout New York State. Immediately following a flood, municipalities are often responsible for protecting public and, private infrastructure that is threatened by a nearby flooded stream. DEC, in partnership with the County Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD), developed a Post Flood Emergency Stream Intervention (ESI) training program and manual to help municipal officials, contractors and machine operators respond effectively to flood damage. By following these guidelines and recommended procedures, municipalities will save time, money and resources. The ESI training program has expanded its reach and is delivered throughout New York State.
North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative
Road-stream crossings (bridges and culverts) often create increased flooding risk due to inadequate sizing and a disconnected design that harms ecological connectivity. With well over 100,000 crossings in New York State, addressing these problems can be challenging. The Community Resiliency Training program supports training through the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative (NAACC), a 13-state collaborative that has created a standardized field assessment methodology on how to address road-stream crossings. Information generated by NAACC surveys helps formulate projects that increase flood resiliency, improve aquatic habitat connectivity and reduce polluted runoff.
Roadside Ditch Maintenance Training
While ditches drain roads, they also effectively intercept runoff from the surrounding landscape, including adjacent hillslopes, parking lots, buildings and other impervious surfaces. Ditches can rapidly divert water to streams, exacerbating flooding. Road salt, fertilizer, and sediments are often transported in this flow, with the potential to pollute nearby waterways. An improperly constructed and poorly maintained ditch can result in several problems, including disruption to the natural stream flow; increased erosion of streambanks; increased flooding; reduction in local groundwater tables; and the potential for increased pollution in water supplies. To address these issues, the Roadside Ditch Maintenance training program has developed specific guidance and criteria to ensure that ditches are properly constructed and maintained.
Municipalities are encouraged to contact their local county Soil and Water Conservation District to learn more about these topics and the training programs. Visit https://www.nys-soilandwater.org/ to find county contact information.
Funding for the Community Resiliency Training program is made available from the Environmental Protection Fund.