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Watershed Rehabilitation

OVERVIEW

The Watershed Rehabilitation Program helps project sponsors rehabilitate aging dams that are reaching the end of their design lives. This rehabilitation addresses critical public health and safety concerns. Since 1948, the Natural Resources Conservation Service NRCS has assisted local sponsors in constructing 11,845 dams project dams.

Watershed Rehabilitation (REHAB) Program Fact Sheet


Project Highlight

Palmetto Creek Watershed Dam #1 - Harris County, Georgia

The Palmetto Creek Dam was constructed in 1960 for the purpose of flood control. Significant urban development occurred upstream resulting an increased runoff and reduced concentration time. Development downstream over the years were constructed within the breach zone. These issues reclassified the dam from a low hazard to a high hazard dam; meaning, having the potential to endanger lives and property in the event of a breach.

The project upgraded the existing dam including construction of a reinforced concrete labyrinth weir and extending the embankment across the existing spillway.

Rehabilitation of the dam was completed in January 2022 providing protection for 45 downstream residents, 15 homes, 7 roads, and other infrastructure such as utilities and culverts.


Benefits of Watershed Rehabilitation

Across the Nation, watershed projects provide an estimated annual benefit of over $2.2 billion in reduced flooding and erosion damage and improved wildlife habitat, recreation, and water supply for an estimated 47 million people. These projects provide additional benefits, such as improved water quality through sediment and erosion control. Watershed rehabilitation projects can also create rural economic growth and job opportunities.

In addition to dam rehabilitation assistance, NRCS maintains a robust dam safety program. NRCS GeoObserver for Dams is a geospatial dam monitoring tool that helps NRCS engineers keep up-to-date information for the National Inventory of Dams. 

Engineering: NRCS–Using new technology to keep dams safe | U.S. Engineering Solutions

  • DamWatch assists in monitoring more than 11,800 dams across 47 states and Puerto Rico. This video is hosted by Larry Caldwell, formerly with NRCS and the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. NRCS DamWatch  provides NRCS engineers and local project sponsors with web-based monitoring of dams during rainfall, snowmelt, or seismic events.

Watershed Rehabilitation and Drought

The Watershed Rehabilitation Program allows sponsors to build or augment existing water supplies. More than 80 rehabilitation projects being planned may include increases in water storage capacity. Once built, these projects would protect the lives and property of more than 119,000 people and boost resilience to climate change.

Project Sponsors

Watershed project sponsors represent interests of the local community in federally assisted watershed projects. Sponsors request financial assistance from NRCS. When funding is allocated, the sponsor and NRCS enter into an agreement that defines the roles and responsibilities of each party to complete the rehabilitation project.

A watershed plan is developed for each project to address environmental impacts, costs, benefits, planned conservation practices, and the responsibilities of involved parties. A variety of agencies and organizations can assist sponsors with developing a plan.

NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to sponsors and assists them with the planning, design, and construction of the projects.

For more information on becoming a Sponsor, follow the links below:

Sponsor Resources

Sponsor Requirements

Sponsor Guide

REHAB Project Fact Sheets, Reports and Other Information

Partnerships

Contact Information

To learn more about NRCS’s Watershed Rehabilitation Program, please contact your state's Program Manager.