The Flood Control Act of 1936 (Public Law 74-738) authorized providing watershed protection and flood prevention as a complement to the downstream flood control program of the Corps of Engineers. Preliminary examinations were initiated on 212 watersheds nation wide. Detailed survey reports were prepared recommending the installation of watershed improvement programs in 25 watersheds from this list. The Flood Control Act of 1944 (Public Law 78-534 or PL 78-534) authorized the installation of works of improvement contained in 11 of the detailed survey reports. Two of the 11 authorized watersheds are located entirely in Texas: the Middle Colorado River and the Trinity River. A portion of a third authorized watershed, the Washita River, is located in Texas and Oklahoma.
In 1953 the House and Senate Agricultural Appropriations Committees obtained an appropriation of $5 million for a “pilot” watershed program. The Secretary of Agriculture by Memorandum 1325, dated April 1, 1953 established the “Pilot Watersheds Program” and assigned responsibility to the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) which approved 62 watersheds in 33 states. Four of the Pilot Watersheds were located in Texas: Cow Bayou, Green Creek, Calaveras Creek, and Escondido Creek. All 62 of the planned floodwater retarding structures in these four watersheds were installed and are now in the operation and maintenance phase.
The Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act of 1954 (Public Law 83-566 or PL 83-566) authorized a permanent nationwide program to provide technical and financial assistance to local watershed groups willing to assume responsibility for initiating, carrying out, and sharing in costs of upstream watershed conservation and flood control. Since the Law’s inception in 1954, Texas has had 99 PL-566 watershed plans approved, of which nine have been deauthorized.