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Idaho Water Infrastructure and PL-566

NRCS manages the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program (also known as Watershed Operations, Public Law 83-566, or just PL-566), authorized by Congress in 1954. 

Current PL-566 Projects Underway in Idaho

Raft River Watershed - Cassia County
North Cache Valley - Franklin County
Cottonwood Creek Watershed - Idaho County

The purpose of this program is to provide technical and financial assistance to public entities (Sponsors) for planning and implementing authorized projects that address:

  • Flood Prevention (Flood Damage Reduction),
  • Watershed Protection,
  • Public Recreation,
  • Public Fish and Wildlife,
  • Water Quality Management,
  • Agricultural Water Management,
  • Municipal and Industrial Water Supply, 
  • Rehabilitation of Structures that were installed as part of a PL-566 project.

Local Watershed Solutions

Project sponsors can use land treatment solutions and/or structural solutions that require construction. An approved watershed plan must be in place before initiating any corrective land treatment or structural solutions.

Once the watershed plan is approved, the project sponsor helps landowners install planned land treatment measures if that is the appropriate solution. For structural solutions, project sponsors ensure surveys and investigations are completed. They also acquire detailed designs, specifications and engineering cost estimates for construction projects. If needed, project sponsors will outline areas where land rights, easements, and right-of-ways are needed.

Eligibility for Authorized Watershed Projects

Statutory and regulatory criteria include:

  • Public sponsorship
  • Watershed Projects up to 250,000 acres
  • Benefits that are directly related to agriculture, including rural communities, must be at least 20 percent of the total benefits for the project.

Accessing the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program

Project sponsors can access help through this program in the following ways:

  • Project sponsors can request funding to carry out an existing NRCS authorized plan. Assistance can include design and construction. 
  • Project sponsors can request the Chief of NRCS to authorize a plan developed with USDA Watershed Operations funding;

Watershed Operations Funding

PL-566 funding is available pending the following:

  • Annual Congressional appropriations
  • State and national priorities
  • Acquisition of land and water rights
  • Obtaining required permits
  • Availability of local funding for specific project solutions
  • Completion of structural, agronomic and vegetative designs for project measures      
  • An approved Operations and Maintenance agreement between NRCS and the project sponsor that ensures the project land treatment and/or structural solutions will be installed and maintained as specified in the agreement.