Federal Flood Control Funding for Rural Areas

RCED-97-25R: Published: Dec 23, 1996. Publicly Released: Dec 23, 1996.

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Pursuant to congressional requests, GAO reviewed the Army Corps of Engineers' funding of rural flood damage reduction projects. GAO noted that Corps, state, and local officials consistently cited three main factors that, in their opinion, limit rural areas' ability to qualify for and receive federal funds for reducing flood damage; (1) rural areas generally do not have a sufficient economic base to achieve the benefit-cost ratio needed to qualify for funding consideration; (2) rural areas may not have the financial resources to meet the Corps' requirements for the local cost sharing of feasibility studies and the construction of projects; and (3) rural areas are more likely to experience significant costs to mitigate environmental concerns related to the construction of flood damage reduction projects. The Corps, state, and local officials suggested several options that would either qualify more rural projects for funding consideration or ensure that funds are dedicated to rural areas. One option would be to lower the benefit-cost ratio to a number that is less than what must now be attained to qualify for federal funding. Another option would be to dedicate a certain amount of funding for rural projects. Implementing any of the proposed options would require congressional action; and to fully explore the merits of implementing any of these options, it would seem appropriate to first define what is urban and what is rural and determine how much federal funding is currently being distributed between urban and rural projects.

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