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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ENGINEERING TOOLS FOR SAFE, EFFICIENT HYDRAULIC STRUCTURES AND CHANNELS Title: A look at the engineering challenges of the USDA Small Watershed Program

Authors
item Hanson, Gregory
item Caldwell, Larry - USDA-NRCS
item Lobrecht, Morris - USDA-NRCS
item Mccook, Danny - USDA-NRCS
item Hunt, Sherry
item Temple, Darrel - RETIRED, USDA-ARS

Submitted to: Transactions of the ASABE
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 1, 2007
Publication Date: October 1, 2007
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/8958
Citation: Hanson, G.J., Caldwell, L., Lobrecht, M., McCook, D., Hunt, S.L., Temple, D.M. 2007. A look at the engineering challenges of the USDA Small Watershed Program. Transactions of the ASABE. 50(5):1677-1682.

Interpretive Summary: The Small Watershed Program, administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly the Soil Conservation Service), originated in the 1940s and 1950s through the following statutes: Flood Control Act of 1944; Pilot Watershed Program 1953-1954; and the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act of 1954. The Small Watershed Program has been recognized as one of the Outstanding Achievements of Agricultural Engineering in the 20th Century in Soil and Water by ASABE. With a $15 billion infrastructure investment, more than 11,000 flood control dams were constructed, and thousands of acres of farms and ranches protected by conservation practices. The objectives of the majority of the projects have been flood control and watershed protection. Other purposes included water management, municipal and industrial water supply, recreation, fish and wildlife habitat improvement, water quality improvement and water conservation. Throughout the history of this program there have been several engineering challenges in the fields of geotechnical engineering, hydrology, and hydraulics. The challenges included designing structures with limited information in untried conditions in a wide variety of settings. Challenges also include management of an aging infrastructure along with changes in national policy, laws, and needs. This paper describes the history and impact of the Small Watershed Program, the engineering challenges surrounding this program, and how these challenges were and are being addressed. This paper also takes a looks at future challenges for the Small Watershed Program and what this means for engineers.

Technical Abstract: The Small Watershed Program, administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly the Soil Conservation Service), originated in the 1940s and 1950s through the following statutes: Flood Control Act of 1944; Pilot Watershed Program 1953-1954; and the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act of 1954. The Small Watershed Program has been recognized as one of the Outstanding Achievements of Agricultural Engineering in the 20th Century in Soil and Water by ASABE. With a $15 billion infrastructure investment, more than 11,000 flood control dams were constructed, and thousands of acres of farms and ranches protected by conservation practices. The objectives of the majority of the projects have been flood control and watershed protection. Other purposes included water management, municipal and industrial water supply, recreation, fish and wildlife habitat improvement, water quality improvement and water conservation. Throughout the history of this program there have been several engineering challenges in the fields of geotechnical engineering, hydrology, and hydraulics. The challenges included designing structures with limited information in untried conditions in a wide variety of settings. Challenges also include management of an aging infrastructure along with changes in national policy, laws, and needs. This paper describes the history and impact of the Small Watershed Program, the engineering challenges surrounding this program, and how these challenges were and are being addressed. This paper also takes a looks at future challenges for the Small Watershed Program and what this means for engineers.

Last Modified: 12/21/2014
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