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There are over 1,300 active or completed watershed projects. Assistance may be provided in authorized watershed projects to install conservation practices and project measures (works of improvement) throughout the watershed project area. The planned works of improvement are described in watershed project plans and are normally scheduled to be installed over multiple years. All works of improvement, including floodwater retarding dams and reservoirs, are owned and operated by the sponsoring local organizations and participating individuals.

The Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) Program provides technical and financial assistance to States, local governments and Tribes (project sponsors) to plan and implement authorized watershed project plans for the purpose of:

  • watershed protection
  • flood mitigation
  • water quality improvements
  • soil erosion reduction
  • rural, municipal and industrial water supply
  • irrigation
  • water management
  • sediment control
  • fish and wildlife enhancement
  • hydropower

Under the Watershed Program NRCS cooperates with States and local agencies to carry out works of improvement for soil conservation and for other purposes including flood prevention; conservation, development, utilization and disposal of water; and conservation and proper utilization of land.

NRCS implements the Watershed Program through:

National Watershed Program Manual and Handbook

The documents below require Adobe Acrobat Reader    

National Watershed Program Manual (PDF, 80KB)

National Watershed Program Handbook (PDF, 2.81MB) 

A Locally Led Program

Project sponsors are provided assistance in installing planned land treatment measures when plans are approved. Surveys and investigations are made and detailed designs, specifications, and engineering cost estimates are prepared for construction of structural measures. Areas where sponsors need to obtain land rights, easements, and rights-of-way are delineated. Technical assistance is also furnished to landowners and operators to accelerate planning and application of needed conservation measures on their individual land units.  More Information.

Watershed Boundary Dataset

This document requires Adobe Acrobat.

Federal Standards and Procedures for the National Watershed Boundary Dataset (PDF; Revised 06/13/2012; Size: 10 MB)

Documents & Publications

Watershed Plan Review Checklist (Excel, 42 KB)

Lessons Learned (PDF, 45 KB)

Cost Computation for Watershed Rehabilitation Projects

Program Contact

David Arthur, Watershed Survey and Planning Program Manager, 202-690-2819