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Watershed Operations

North Dakota NRCS

Watershed Operations

Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Operations Program

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 authorized 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. WFPO provides for cooperation between the Federal government and the States and their political subdivisions 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 Sponsors have made extensive use of the WFPO Program since the late 1950s in North Dakota.  The majority of projects have been targeted to flood damage reduction, fish and wildlife habitat, and recreation.  Dams, levees, and flood diversion channels are typical infrastructure components of these projects.  The map HERE shows the location of just the 50 dams constructed through the program to date in ND.

NRCS completed an analysis of watershed benefits from WFPO dams in 2018, and the 50 dams shown above generate the following:

  • $6.9 Million in Flood Damage Reduction annually for agriculture
  • $1.7 Million in Flood Damage Reduction annually for non-agriculture
  • $1.3 Million in Other Benefits annually for agriculture
  • $0.6 Million in Other Benefits annually for non-agriculture
  • Save 4.4 Million tons of soil from erosion
  • Save 660,000 tons of soil erosion annually
  • Provide numerous recreational opportunities for rural North Dakota
  • Provide 103,000 acre-feet of flood storage
  • Benefit approximately 200,000 people

National level benefits from all NRCS dams are summarized in this Fact Sheet.

Current/Recent ND WFPO Projects

Watershed Project Name Sponsor   Year
Started
Status (Aug 2020) Available Information
Rush River Cass County Joint WRD 2015 Draft Plan/EA complete; under NWMC review Fact Sheet
North Branch Park River Park River Joint WRD 2015 Draft Plan/EA complete; under NWMC review Fact Sheet
Upper Maple River Cass County Joint WRD 2015 Draft Plan/EA in development Fact Sheet
Shortfoot Creek Sargent County WRD 2016 Draft Plan/EA in development Fact Sheet
Tongue River Pembina County WRD 2016 Draft Plan/EA in development Fact Sheet
North Branch Antelope Creek Richland County WRD 2016 Draft Plan/EA in progress Fact Sheet
Forest River Walsh County WRD 2015 Planning ceased Fact Sheet
Final Planning Report
Swan Creek Cass County Joint WRD 2015 Planning Ceased Fact Sheet
Final Planning Report
Planning Report Appendices
Upper Turtle River Dam 10 Grand Forks County WRD 2020 Planning just being initiated  

National WFPO Website

ND Program contact:  Christi Fisher, State Conservation Engineer (701)530-2091