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Watershed Rehabilitation

The Small Watershed Rehabilitation Amendment of 2000 (Public Law 106-472), an amendment to Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Action of 1954 (Public Law 83-566), authorized the USDA Secretary of Agriculture to provide assistance to owners of a public dam installed previously through the Flood Control Act of 1944 (PL78-534), Pilot Watershed Program, PL83-566 Program, and the Resource Conservation and Development Program. The Watershed Rehabilitation Program was created in view of the more than 11,000 aging NRCS-assisted dams built in the United States since 1948 that are in need of rehabilitation to maintain the many benefits they provide.

In Pennsylvania, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly the USDA-Soil Conservation Service) has assisted sponsors with the building of over 80 dams through the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program and the Resource Conservation and Development Program since the early 1960s.The primary purpose of rehabilitation is to extend the service life of the dams and bring them into compliance with applicable safety and performance standards or, when applicable, to decommission the dam.
Rehabilitation work can include:

      • Protecting the integrity of the dam or extending the useful life of the dam
      • Correcting damage to the dam from a catastrophic event
      • Correcting deterioration of structural components that are deteriorating at an abnormal rate
      • Upgrading the dam to meet changed land use conditions in a watershed served by the dam or changed safety criteria
      • Decommissioning (removal) of the dam and stabilizing the site

Rehabilitation does not include activities that are operation and maintenance.

In Pennsylvania NRCS has:

To request consideration for rehabilitation assistance a sponsor must submit to NRCS:

For more information about the Watershed Rehabilitation Program, please contact:

Tim Peters
State Conservation Engineer

Last updated:  December 15, 2021