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It is estimated that $80 billion is needed in the next 10 years to maintain and improve the nation’s levees. Federal funding is available only for USACE-owned levees. More than half of levees are owned by states and localities, which often have limited budgets for repairs and maintenance.

The 2014 Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) created a new National Levee Safety Initiative (NLSI). This program will promote consistent safety standards, create levee safety guidelines, and provide funding assistance to states for establishing participating levee safety programs. WRRDA authorized $395 million to support levee safety initiative. However, since the NLSI was passed, not a single dollar has been appropriated for the program, nor has the program been identified in the Presidential Budget Request as a priority. Even if funds are appropriated for this program, they are not intended to be used for levee repairs, maintenance, or rehabilitation of the infrastructure. Funding the National Levee Safety Initiative to create state programs would be a major step toward improving the nation’s levee infrastructure. Without investment in this program, levees will continue to languish and much of this critical infrastructure’s condition will remain unknown.

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