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Caloosahatchee River Tributary

Pennsylvania Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program

The purpose of the Watershed Program is to assist government agencies, local government sponsors, 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 concerns.

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, 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. 

Both technical and financial assistance are available to address the following resource concerns:

  • flooding and upstream flood damages
  • erosion and sediment
  • agricultural drought
  • rural development
  • municipal and industrial water needs
  • water needs for fish, wildlife, and forest-based industries
  • fish and wildlife habitat
  • wetland creation and restoration

How The Program Works

NRCS does watershed planning in the following ways:

  • Sponsoring local organizations can request that watershed project plans be authorized for Federal Watershed Operations funding assistance.
  • Watershed plans involving Federal contributions in excess of $5,000,000 for contribution, or construction of any single structure having a capacity in excess of 2,500 acre feet, require Congressional approval.
  • Other plans can be authorized for Federal funding by the Chief of NRCS.
  • After approval, technical and financial assistance can be provided for installation of works of improvement specified in the plans, subject to annual appropriations, through Watershed Operations.

Eligibility for Authorized Watershed Projects

Criteria include:

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

Program Information

Current Projects:

Watershed Rehabilitation

Brodhead Creek Supplemental Watershed Plan, Leavitt Branch Dam (PA-463) and Goose Pond Dam (PA-464)

Middle Creek Supplemental Watershed Plan, Walker Lake Dam (PA-637)

Little Schuylkill Tributaries Supplemental Watershed Plan , Little Schuylkill Dry Dam (PA-422), Neifert Creek Dam (PA-422A), Locust Creek Dam ( PA-423), Hosensock Dam (PA-424), and Koenigs Creek Dam (PA-425)

Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations

Chiques Creek Watershed Legacy Sediment Project 

Martins Creek Flood Prevention Project

Chester County Spent Mushroom Substrate Watershed Protection Project


Past Projects:

Watershed Rehabilitation

Program Contact:

Heather L. Smeltz
Assistant State Conservationist - Water Resources

WFPO Resources

Ready to get started?

Contact your local service center to start your application.

Find Your Local Service Center

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit

How to Get Assistance

Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?

Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.

how to get started

To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.

NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.

We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:

  • To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
  • To meet other eligibility certifications.

Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.

Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.

As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:

  • An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
  • A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
  • A farm number.

If you don’t have a farm number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm number if you’re interested in financial assistance.

NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants. View Application Ranking Dates by State.

If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.

Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.