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Watershed Protection

Watershed Protection, Watershed Surveys, and Flood Prevention

Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program

The Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act, P.L. 83-566, August 4, 1954, (16 U.S.C. 1001-1008) authorized this program. Prior to fiscal year 1996, watershed planning activities and the cooperative river basin surveys and investigations authorized by Section 6 of the Act were operated as separate programs. The 1996 appropriations act combined the activities into a single program entitled the Watershed Surveys and Planning program.  Activities under both programs are continuing under this authority.

The purpose of the Watershed Program, including River Basin operations,  is to assist Federal, State, local agencies, local government sponsors, tribal governments, and program participants to protect and restore watersheds  from damage caused by erosion, floodwater, and sediment, to conserve and develop water and land resources, and solve natural resource and related economic problems on a watershed basis.   The program provides technical and financial assistance to local people or project sponsors, builds partnerships, and requires local and state funding contribution. 

Resource concerns addressed by the program include watershed protection, flood prevention, erosion and sediment control, water supply, water quality, opportunities for water conservation, wetland and water storage capacity, agricultural drought problems, rural development, municipal and industrial water needs, upstream flood damages, water needs for fish, wildlife, and forest-based industries, fish and wildlife habitat enhancement, wetland creation and restoration, and public recreation in watersheds of 250,000 or fewer acres.  Both technical and financial assistance are available.

Types of surveys and plans include watershed plans, river basin surveys and studies, flood hazard analyses, and flood plain management assistance. The focus of these plans is to identify solutions that use conservation practice and nonstructural measures to solve resource problems.

Watershed plans involving contribution in excess of $5,000,000 for construction, or construction of any single structure having a capacity in excess of 2,500 acre feet, require Congressional approval. Other plans are administratively authorized.  After approval, technical and financial assistance can be provided for installation of works of improvement specified in the plans.

Project sponsors are provided assistance in installing planned land treatment measures when plans are approved. Surveys and investigations are made and detailed designs, specifications, and engineering cost estimates are prepared for construction of structural measures.  Areas where sponsors need to obtain land rights, easements, and rights-of-way are delineated. Technical assistance is also furnished to landowners and operators to accelerate planning and application of needed conservation measures on their individual land units. There are presently over 1600 projects in operation.

Program Information

National Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program Web Site

Program Contact

Jeff Vander Wilt, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, 605-352-1206
Jay Cobb, State Conservation Engineer, 605-352-1260