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How the Watershed Operations program works

NRCS does watershed planning in the following ways:

  • Sponsoring local organizations can request that watershed project plans be authorized for Federal Watershed Operations funding assistance. 

  • Watershed plans involving Federal contributions in excess of $5,000,000 for contribution, or construction of any single structure having a capacity in excess of 2,500 acre feet, require Congressional approval. 

  • Other plans can be authorized for Federal funding by the Chief of NRCS. 

  • After approval, technical and financial assistance can be provided for installation of works of improvement specified in the plans, subject to annual appropriations, through Watershed Operations.

Technical and Financial Assistance

Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations provides technical and financial assistance in authorized watershed projects which have public sponsors who:

  • Conduct public meetings to assure local involvement

  • Obtain all land and water rights and permits required for the installation of works of improvement

  • Provide local share of funds to install works of improvement

  • Operate and maintain works of improvement

Eligibility Authorized Watershed Projects

Criteria include:

  • Public sponsorship

  • Watershed projects up to 250,000 acres

  • Benefits that are directly related to agriculture, including rural communities, that are at least 20 percent of the total benefits of the project

Funds for Watershed Projects

Funds that may be available for watershed projects are subject to the following:

  • Annual Congressional appropriations

  • State and national resource priorities

  • Acquisition of land and water rights, permits

  • Local funding established for specific project measures

  • Completion of structural, agronomic, and vegetative designs for project measures

  • NRCS and the project sponsor approval of an Operation and Maintenance Agreement involving the measures to be installed