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Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program

NRCS manages the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program (also known as Public Law 83-566 or PL-566), authorized by Congress in 1954. The purpose of this program is to provide technical and financial assistance to public entities for planning and implementing authorized projects that:

  • Protect watersheds,
  • Mitigate floods,
  • Improve water quality,
  • Reduce soil erosion,
  • Enhance fish and wildlife habitat, 
  • Create opportunities for hydroelectric power production 

Current PL-566 Projects Underway in Oregon

  • Central Oregon Irrigation Modernization Project: includes multiple irrigation districts in Central Oregon in partnership with the Deschutes Basin Board of Control and the Farmers Conservation Alliance. Project website:
  • Lower Columbia Watershed Restoration Project: a partnership effort with the Columbia Soil and Water Conservation District and other partners to improve water quality and habitat for fish and wildlife within the north-central portion of Columbia County. Project website:

Local Watershed Solutions

Project sponsors access program assistance through the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations component of this program. Project sponsors can use land treatment solutions or structural solutions, which require construction. An approved watershed plan must be in place before initiating of any corrective land treatment or structural solutions.

Once the watershed plan is approved, the project sponsor helps landowners install planned land treatment measures if that is the appropriate solution. For structural solutions, project sponsors ensure surveys and investigations are completed. They also acquire detailed designs, specifications and engineering cost estimates for construction projects. If needed, project sponsors will outline areas where land rights, easements, and right-of-ways are needed.

Eligibility for Authorized Watershed Projects

Statutory and regulatory criteria include:

  • Public sponsorship
  • Watershed Projects up to 250,000 acres
  • Benefits that are directly related to agriculture, including rural communities, must be at least 20 percent of the total benefits for the project.

Accessing the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program

Project sponsors can access help through this program in the following ways:

  • Project sponsors can request funding to carry out an existing NRCS authorized plan. Assistance can include design and construction. 
  • Project sponsors can request the Chief of NRCS to authorize a plan developed with USDA  Watershed Operations funding;
  • Watershed plans that require $5 million or more in federal funding  for construction require Congressional approval.

Once the watershed plan is authorized, project sponsors can access NRCS’s financial and technical help to implement their plan.

Watershed Operations Funding

Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations funding is available pending the following:

  • Annual Congressional appropriations
  • State and national priorities
  • Acquisition of land and water rights
  • Obtaining required permits
  • Availability of local funding for specific project solutions
  • Completion of structural, agronomic and vegetative designs for project measures      
  • An approved Operations and Maintenance agreement between NRCS and the project sponsor that ensures the project land treatment and/or structural solutions will be installed and maintained as specified in the agreement.

More Information


Tom Makowski
Assistant State Conservationist for Watershed Resources and Planning
Phone: 503-621-7626