Dams save lives and property, as much as $85 million a year, just in Oklahoma, says Clay Pope, who stepped down as executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts earlier this month.

Pope commented on how the recent announcement of a $262 million investment to rehabilitate dams will affect farmers and ranchers as well as citizens across the country.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the Watershed Rehabilitation Funding that will provide critical infrastructure and protect public health and safety. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Jason Weller and Representative Frank Lucas, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, were in Perry, Oklahoma, to recognize the importance of the investment.

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“This investment will protect people and property from floods, help keep our water clean, and ensure that critical structures continue to provide benefits for future generations," Weller said. "Families, businesses and our agriculture economy depend on responsible management of dams and watersheds, and we are continuing to provide that support to these communities."

The funds will provide rehabilitation assistance for 150 dams in 26 states. Several of those dams are in Oklahoma.

“Each year Oklahoma’s 2,100 plus flood control structures save our state over $85 million in damage that doesn't happen because they are there protecting Oklahoma lives and property,” Pope said. “In addition, by allowing these funds to be used to expand existing dams and make them into reservoirs we can help towns and cities by insuring additional water supplies.”