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Revised Planning Policy in National Watershed Program Manual

  • 1. Planning authorization required from headquarters to assure the request is within National priorities
    • Revised Manual 500.21A. Planning authorization must be requested when the STC is ready to commit technical resources in the planning effort. The Chief is responsible for authorizing planning assistance to develop a watershed plan. The authorization will specify the purposes that can be included in the plan. The plan status will become “active” in the Program Operations Information Tracking System (POINTS) database once authorization for planning assistance is granted.
  • 2. Planning authorization time period limited to 5 years
    • Revised Manual 500.21B. The planning authorization will be limited to 5 years. The planning authorization will be cancelled if the watershed plan is not in interagency review within the 5-year time period. At that time, the planning status will become “deauthorized” in POINTS.
  • 3. Water Resource Project - Water Resource Project includes projects meeting all of the following criteria:
    • Projects having one or more of the following purposes: flood prevention; water supply; water-based recreation; water quality management (as defined in the PL 83-566 Sec. 4); and large scale irrigation or drainage projects, and, are implemented by a “local organization” (as defined by PL 83-566 Sec. 2). For water resource project plans the NED alternative will be developed and selected as the recommended plan.
  • 4. Non-Water Resource Projects - Watershed projects which are not water resource projects.
    • For example watershed protection, land treatment, or ecosystem restoration projects, and locally implemented plans. Other watershed projects not meeting the above criteria, and locally implemented plans are considered for the purposes of the manual to be “non-water resource projects”.
    • Both types of projects plans will be formulated in accordance with all requirements of the P&G. However, for Non-water resource project plans the development of the NED is not required. The recommended plan shall be the least costly, environmentally acceptable method of achieving the agreed upon level of resource protection.

Watershed Planning Considerations and Steps

Consult the revised National Watershed Program Manual and Handbook for full policy and guidance on watershed planning.

  1. Sponsoring local organizations request NRCS assistance for a watershed project plan (SF 424).
  2. States conduct the preliminary investigation report and a plan of work.
  3. States request planning authorization and funding for planning.
  4. The Chief is responsible for authorizing planning assistance to develop a watershed plan.
  5. Watershed plan developed with consultation and cooperation of other Federal and States agencies.

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