USDA-NRCS with local Utah communities have constructed 45 dams in Utah since 1949 primarily for the purpose of flood control, water storage, and/or recreation. Since the construction of these dams, more stringent dam safety regulations and engineering standards have been established. Development has also occurred downstream of many of these dams adding or increasing the risk of property/utility damage and loss of life if dam failure were to occur. Additionally many of these dams are nearing the end of their original 50-year design life.
Rehabilitation measures would be required at many of these dams for the structures to meet the current dam safety regulations and engineering standards, and to ensure they continue providing flood prevention, municipal and industrial water storage, irrigation water storage, and/or recreation benefits. The process for rehabilitation involves four stages:
- Dam Assessment – Determine dam deficiencies and whether to advance with rehabilitation;
- Planning – Development of a physically, environmentally, socially, and economically sound project plan in the form of a Supplemental Watershed Plan and Environmental Assessment (Plan-EA);
- Design – Development and completion of a final construction design for the rehabilitation project; and
- Construction – Installation of the recommended rehabilitation measures.
2014 Watershed Rehabilitation Update
The 2014 Farm Bill made about $262 million available for rehabilitation of 151 dams in 26 states. These watershed management projects provide an estimated $2.2 billion in annual benefits in reduced flooding and erosion damages, recreation, water supplies and wildlife habitat for roughly 47 million people. Projects were identified based on recent rehabilitation investments and the risks to life and property if a dam failure occurred.
Small Watershed Program (PL-566)
The small watershed program provides both technical and financial (project implementation) assistance to help urban and rural communities protect, improve, and develop water and land resources in watersheds of up to 250,000 acres (approximately 390 square miles). Projects are undertaken at the request of local sponsors who seek assistance in addressing natural resource and related economic problems on a watershed basis. Projects can include flood prevention (flood damage reduction), development of rural water supply sources, erosion/sediment control, fish and wildlife habitat enhancement, wetland creation/restoration, and increased recreation opportunities.
Coordination with appropriate county, state, and tribal agencies is necessary. Sponsors and other beneficiaries are expected to provide a share of costs (typically 35% of construction cost), depending on the type of project, and are responsible for operation and maintenance of any installed improvements.
Rehabilitation Projects in Utah
The sites listed below are currently going through the Dam Assessment process.
- Mt. Pleasant-Pleasant Creek (Upper)
- Mt. Pleasant-Pleasant Creek (Lower)
- Miller Canyon Debris Basin
- Bigelow Debris Basin
- Big Wash Debris Basin
- Red Hills Debris Basin (Minersville)
- Ferron Debris Basin # 3 (Zwahlen Wash)
- Ferron Debris Basin #4 (Diversion Hollow)
- Ferron Debris Basin #5 (Indian Hollow)
Dam Assessments have been completed for the sites listed below.
- Green Lakes Debris Basin #2
- Green Lakes Debris Basin #3
- Green Lakes Debris Basin #4
Plan-EA’s are currently in progress for the sites listed below.
Plan-EA’s for the sites listed below have been completed:
Design is currently in progress for the sites listed below.
- Tibble Fork
- Grove Creek
- Battle Creek
Construction is either proposed or currently in progress for the sites listed below.
- Silver Lake Flat
- Start: Spring 2015
- Finish: Fall 2015
NRCS Watershed Rehabilitation Program Information
NRCS Watershed Rehabilitation 2015 Projects Funding Table
NRCS Watershed Rehabilitation 2014 Dam Assessment Requests
NRCS Watershed Rehabilitation 2014 Dam Rehab Funding Table
National Watershed Coalition
Watershed Rehabilitation Utah Contacts
State Conservation Engineer
Water Resources Coordinator
Updated: April 29, 2015