Submitted to: National Watershed Conference National Watershed Coalition
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/17/2011
Publication Date: 5/17/2011
Citation: Caldwell, L.W., Hunt, S.L., Freeland, J.D., Locke, M.A., Moore, J., Burns, A. 2011. Lessons learned during 10 years of rehabilitating NRCS-assisted watershed dams. In: Proceedings of the 12th National Watershed Conference, National Watershed Coalition, May 15-18, 2011, Oklahoma City, OK. CDROM. Interpretive Summary: Congress passed legislation authorizing the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to provide expert technical assistance and money to watershed project sponsors for the rehabilitation of their aging dams. NRCS, working with local project sponsors, have constructed more than 11,000 dams across the United States, with the peak of construction taking place in the 1960's. Many of these dams are now reaching the end of their 50 year design life, so to ensure these dams remain safe and continue to provide benefits like flood control, recreation, and wildlife habitat, rehabilitation of these dams are required. The USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) provides research support to USDA programs including those provided by the NRCS. This research support has allowed for safer dams to be built and rehabilitated. This paper documents the cooperative efforts that resulted from the dam rehabilitation legislation and program development, related ARS research efforts in support of the rehabilitation program, and the lessons learned during the past 10 years of development and implementation of this dam rehabilitation program.
Technical Abstract: The United States Congress passed the Watershed Rehabilitation Amendments to the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act (Public Law 83-566) over a decade ago. This legislation authorized the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to provide technical and financial assistance to watershed project sponsors for the rehabilitation of their aging dams. Through the USDA Watershed Programs, NRCS, working with local project sponsors, have constructed more than 11,400 dams across the United States. Many of these dams are now reaching the end of their 50 year planned service life. Rehabilitation of these dams is required to ensure they continue to provide flood control, recreation, and wildlife benefits for another 50 to 100 years. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in support of the Watershed Programs has provided invaluable research that has resulted in more hydraulically efficient and safer dams. This paper documents the cooperative efforts that resulted in the enactment of the legislation, the development of the new program policy, the appropriations provided, program accomplishments, related ARS research efforts, and the lessons learned during the past 10 years of development and implementation of this dam rehabilitation program.