Emergency Watershed Protection Program
The purpose of the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWPP) program is to undertake emergency measures, including the purchase of flood plain easements, for runoff retardation and soil erosion prevention to safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, and the products of erosion on any watershed whenever fire, flood or any other natural occurrence is causing or has caused a sudden impairment of the watershed. The EWP program relies on federal funding, which has been limited in recent years.
Public Law 78-534 ~ The Flood Control Act of 1944
This gives NRCS the authority to assist local units of government to plan and install measures to reduce runoff in 11 selected watersheds in the nation. The Potomac River Basin in West Virginia is one of those watersheds.
Public Law 83-566 ~ The Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act of 1954
This gives NRCS the authority to assist local units of government to plan and install needed water management and flood prevention measures in watersheds throughout the nation.
Watershed Projects Benefit West Virginia Communities
West Virginia has over a $2 billion infrastructure that provides over $72 million in benefits each year. NRCS has designed and installed 170 watershed dams and 22 channels throughout West Virginia.
- Flood Control
- Water Supply
- Erosion Control
- Wildlife Habitat
Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention
The Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) Program (Watershed Operations) includes the Flood Prevention Operations Program authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1944 (P.L. 78-534) and the provisions of the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act of 1954 (P.L. 83-566). The Flood Control Act originally authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to install watershed improvement measures in 11 watersheds, also known as pilot watersheds, to reduce flood, sedimentation, and erosion damage; improve the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water; and advance the conservation and proper utilization of land. The Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act provides for cooperation between the Federal government and the States and their political subdivisions in a program to prevent erosion, floodwater, and sediment damage; to further the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water; and to further the conservation and proper utilization of land in authorized watersheds.
Local communities, with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) assistance, have constructed over 11,000 dams in 47 states since 1948. Many of these dams are nearing the end of their 50-year design life. Rehabilitation of these dams is needed to address critical public health and safety issues in these communities. The following information provides background and case studies of rehabilitation needs of watershed dams across the nation as well as progress toward rehabilitation accomplishments.
Projects in West Virginia:
- Blakes-Armour 7
- Brush Creek 14
- New Creek 14
- Upper Deckers Creek Site 1
- Wheeling Creek 25
Watershed Surveys and Planning
The Watershed and Flood Prevention Act, P.L. 83-566 (PDF, 42 KB), August 4, 1954, (16 U.S.C. 1001-1008) authorized this program. Prior to fiscal year 1996, small 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 program is to assist Federal, State, and local agencies and tribal governments to protect watersheds from damage caused by erosion, floodwater, and sediment and to conserve and develop water and land resources. Resource concerns addressed by the program include water quality, opportunities for water conservation, wetland and water storage capacity, agricultural drought problems, rural development, municipal and industrial water needs, upstream flood damages, and water needs for fish, wildlife, and forest-based industries.
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 land treatment and nonstructural measures to solve resource problems.
Projects in West Virginia:
- Cherry River Headwaters Watershed Plan
- Elkhorn Creek Watershed Plan
- Upper Guyandotte Watershed Plan