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Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program

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

These documents require Adobe Acrobat

Bentley Creek Final Watershed Project Plan - Environmental Assessment (PDF, 21.4 MB)

Reinvesting in America's Watersheds

NRCS Watershed Program Role In Locally-Led Conservation

Final EA - Mill Run Dams PA-461A&B, Tamarack Lake Consideration of Release of Federal Interest (PDF, 3.75MB)

FONSI - Mill Run Dams PA-461A&B, Tamarack Lake Consideration of Release (PDF, 765KB)

Program Contact

Peter Vanderstappen
State Conservation Engineer

Don Murray
Agricultural Engineer
570-784-4401, Ext 122

Heather Smeltz
Civil Engineer


Updated 07/19/2016