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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

Watershed Resources, Surveys, and Planning

Hawaii Watershed Studies

Kaua'i Watershed Studies

Maui Watershed Studies

O'ahu Watershed Studies


John Mathews
State Conservation Engineer
Phone: (808) 600-2922