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Small Watershed Program PL556

The Small Watershed Program in North Dakota - PL 78-534 and PL 83-566

The USDA's Small Watershed Program assists local organizations in conducting watershed surveys and investigations, and in planning and installing structural and land treatment measures for watershed protection and flood prevention. In California, the Watershed Planning and Engineering staffs are responsible for implementation of these programs.

The watershed is the unit of landscape and framework around which to think together about the land and its role in peoples' lives. The lessons learned through the implementation of PL 78-534 and PL 83-566 - the ability to work with private landowners and communities to plan and install conservation measures on a watershed scale - forms the foundation upon which locally-led conservation is built and supported by NRCS.


USDA's Small Watershed Program was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1944, Public Law 78-534, and the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act of 1954, Public Law 83-566.  The original program, PL 78-534, was established for 11 selected watersheds throughout the country. The subsequent legislation, PL 83-566, was passed to expand the program to all of the nation's watersheds.

USDA's Small Watershed Program has three general purposes:  1) preventing damage from erosion, floodwater and sediment, 2) furthering the conservation development, utilization, and disposal of water, and 3) further the conservation and proper utilization of land.

The program applies to watersheds 250,000 acres and smaller.  At least 20 percent of any project benefits must related directly to agriculture, including rural communities.  A local sponsoring organization is needed to carry out, maintain, and operate works of improvement.

The program has two main components, each of which is funded separately: 1) watershed surveys and planning; and 2) watershed and flood prevention operations and construction.

North Dakota Program Contact

Dennis Reep
State Conservation Engineer

Phone: 701-530-2086