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Small Watershed Program

Watershed Planning and Projects

Through the Small Watershed Program, authorized by Public Law 83-566, NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to local organizations for planning and carrying out watershed projects that help solve natural resource and related economic problems in a specific watershed.  Project purposes include watershed protection, flood prevention, erosion and sediment control, water supply, water quality, fish and wildlife habitat enhancement, and wetlands creation.

Some of the watershed planning is done specifically with the intent of providing implementation or construction funds under PL-566.  Other plans are developed to be program neutral, where funding for project implementation can come from many different programs or other sources.

Most projects in Idaho have been planned for the primary purpose of watershed protection.  The Program has also been used with the state's agricultural water quality program.

Active Watershed Projects

  • Southern Washington County Water Quality Project
    Project Number 2023        Total Planned Cost - $14, 328,400        Project Acres - 35,800

    The project is designed to improve ground and surface water quality in the Weiser area.  Agricultural activities in the project area have contributed to water quality degradation.  The project will assist farmers and ranchers in installing best management practices to reduce the loss of nutrients, pesticides, and sediment from agricultural lands, and restore beneficial uses of surface water and improve ground water quality.  Approximately $300,000 of federal dollars provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will be available the first year to assist farmers and ranchers in upgrading irrigation systems and installing sediment basins.

    Partners on this project include the Weiser River Soil Conservation District, Weiser Irrigation District, Washington County Commissioners, Idaho Soil Conservation Commission, and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.
     

  • Scott's Pond Watershed Protection Project
    Project Number 2022        Total Planned Cost - $9,284,930        Project Acres - 61,950

    The watershed has one of the highest concentrations of dairy cattle in the nation. Nutrients and bacteria from animal wastes are contaminants in both surface and groundwater. Elevated nitrates and the presence of ammonia in the local ground water supply is a health concern. Nutrients and sediment from a variety of sources have resulted in eutrophication of the middle Snake River. The project is designed to address the surface and groundwater quality problems by implementing improvements in waste management systems and proper land application of animal waste.

    Partners on this project include North Side Soil and Water Conservation District, Jerome County Commissioners, North Side Canal Company, Idaho Soil Conservation Commission, and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.
     
  • Bedrock Creek Watershed Protection Project
    Project Number 2021        Total Planned Cost - $2,813,210        Project Acres - 41,915

    Bedrock Creek provides spawning and rearing habitat for anadromous fisheries utilizing the lower Clearwater River Basin. High summer water temperatures caused in part by low flows and lack of adequate multi-layered riparian vegetation have reduced habitat quality. The project is designed to improve fish habitat through riparian area stabilization and vegetation enhancement, and to modify hydrologic characteristics of the upper watershed through the installation of sediment basins and water and sediment control structures. Conservation practices to address water quality impacts (sediment, nutrients, bacteria) will include prescribed grazing and exclusion, stock water developments, filter strips, and buffers.

    Partners on the project include the Clearwater Soil and Water Conservation District, the Nez Perce Soil and Water Conservation District, the Nez Perce Tribe, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho Soil Conservation Commission, and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.
     
  • Mission/Lapwai Creek Watershed Protection Project
    Project Number 2020        Total Planned Cost - $11,459,710        Project Acres - 174,600

    Low stream flows and a lack of adequate multi-layered riparian vegetation have, in part, reduced the suitability of Lapwai Creek and tributaries as quality spawning and rearing habitat for anadromous and resident cold-water fish. In addition, sediment, nutrients, and bacteria from existing land-use practices are adversely impacting water quality. The project is designed to improve fish habitat through riparian and in-stream enhancement and protection, and to minimize agricultural contributions of sediment, nutrients and bacteria with a variety of land treatment practices.

    Partners on this project include Nez Perce Soil and Water Conservation District, Nez Perce County Commissioners, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho Soil Conservation Commission, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, and the Nez Perce Tribe.
     
  • Tammany Creek Watershed Protection Project
    Project Number 2019        Total Planned Cost - $5,853,990        Project Acres - 34,160

    Land use changes and current land management practices within Tammany Creek watershed have impaired water quality and impacted downstream water beneficial use. Confined animal feeding operation adjacent to the creek and tributaries, along with adjacent cropland use and livestock grazing activities have contributed sediment, bacteria, and nutrients, and have contributed to modifications in temperature, flow regime, and habitat. The project is designed to improve channel stability and vegetation, exclude livestock and implement prescribed grazing, install erosion control structures and practices, install filter strips and buffers, and implement a number of practices to reduce nutrient and pesticide runoff.

    Project partners include Nez Perce Soil and Water Conservation District, Nez Perce County Commissioners, Nez Perce Tribe, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho Soil Conservation Commission, and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

Completed Watershed Projects

  • Tensed/Lolo Creek - Benewah County
  • Lower Sand Creek - Bingham and Bonneville Counties
  • Rock Creek - Houtz/Outlet, Power County
  • Rock Creek - Big Canyon/East Fork, Power County
  • Thorn Creek - Latah County
  • Brundage Creek - Adams County
  • Upper Sand Creek - Bonneville County
  • Rock Creek - Roy East, Power County
  • Rock Creek - Summit, Oneida and Power Counties
  • Hazelton Butte - Jerome County
  • Rock Creek - Sublett, Power County
  • Georgetown Creek - Bear Lake County
  • Trail Creek - Teton County
  • Montpelier Creek - Bear Lake County
  • Cedar Creek - Owyhee and Twin Falls County
  • Fourth of July Creek - Kootenai County

River Basin Surveys and Investigations

NRCS works with other federal, state, local agencies, and tribal governments to conduct river basin surveys and investigations, flood hazard analyses, and provide floodplain management assistance to aid in the development of coordinated water resource programs.  There is currently one investigation initiated for the Gold Fork Diversion, Valley County.

Recently Completed Studies and Investigations:
  • Fort Hall Groundwater Quality Cooperative River Basin Study; Fort Hall Indian Reservation; Bingham, Bannock and Power Counties

    Plan objectives were to minimize the health risks associated with exposure to ground water contaminants and to protect and enhance the quality and quantity of surface and ground water on the Reservation.

  • Potlatch River Watershed Management Plan, Latah County

    Plan objective was to provide land owners, land managers and conservation agency staff with a guideline to facilitate the collaborative coordination of steelhead habitat restoration efforts throughout the Potlatch River watershed.
     

  • Ashton Groundwater Protection Plan, Fremont County

    Plan objectives were to determine the agricultural contributions to the nitrate loading of the area groundwater, and develop best management practices to minimize contributions through appropriate irrigation water and nutrient management.
     

  • Minidoka Land and Water Management Plan

    Plan objectives were to minimize the impacts to ground water from agriculture by implementing a variety of on-farm conservation practices, including irrigation system design and management, tillage and residue management, and practices to control erosion. In addition, irrigation drain wells that had contributed significantly to groundwater degradation would be closed.


For More Information or Questions About Watershed Planning

Eugene Schock
Assistant State Conservationist (Technical Services) 
Phone: (208) 378-5720
Email: Eugene.Schock@id.usda.gov