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.