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Spillman Watershed

New Flood Control Dam Protects Livelihood of Rural Kansans

The North Central Kansas economy was bolstered with the recent construction of a floodwater retarding dam.  Located in the Spillman Creek watershed district (Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, and Russell counties), the new dam completes the district’s Public Law 83-566 (P.L. 566) work plan, which consists of 17 other dams.   Those dams provide the predominantly agricultural region an estimated $500,000 per year in protection. 

Spillman Creek is just one of 62 Kansas watershed districts that have turned to P.L. 566 for assistance in protecting and re-vitalizing their communities.  Enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1954, the law authorizes the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide local groups financial and technical assistance for flood protection and other watershed based activities.  Small floodwater retarding dams, a key component toward that aim, prevents severe flooding to agricultural land, roads and urban areas from heavy rains by capturing (then slowly releasing) excessive runoff.  The dams can also provide water supply and recreational opportunities to rural communities, and have been effective at improving downstream water quality.  In the last 50 years, 776 P.L. 566 floodwater retarding dams have been built in Kansas.   

For more information on small floodwater retarding dams, or P.L. 566, please contact Bruce Wells, Assistant State Conservationist (Water Resources), USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service  at 785-823-4550.