Hydrologic and Hydraulic Research in the Soil Conservation Service
By Douglas Helms
The U. S. Congress created the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) in 1935 in legislation that declared “the wastage of soil and moisture resources on farm, grazing, and forest lands of the Nation, resulting from soil erosion, is a menace to the national welfare and that it is hereby declared to be the policy of Congress to provide permanently for the control and prevention of soil erosion and thereby to preserve natural resources, control floods, prevent impairment of reservoirs, and maintain the navigability of rivers and harbors …” When the law was enacted, little hydraulic or hydrologic research had been done on the relationship of soil erosion to flood control, the impairment of streams and harbors, and the sedimentation of reservoirs. SCS undertook hydrologic and hydraulic research in order to design and implement effective conservation practices. The research developed basic principles that both aided the soil and water conservation program and made pioneering contributions to science and technology related to land and water.