Submitted to: State Dam Safety Officials Association Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/15/2011
Publication Date: 9/27/2011
Citation: Cladwell, 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. In: Dam Safety 2011. Proceedings of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials Annual Conference, September 25-29, 2011, Washington, DC. CDROM. Interpretive Summary: Since the early 1950's, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has provided technical and financial assistance for the construction of more than 11,400 dams across the United States. These dams provide benefits including flood control, recreation, wildlife habitat, and municipal and rural water supplies. Most of these dams were designed to protect downstream agricultural areas from flooding, but since they were built, homes and businesses have been built downstream from several dams. Consequently, these dams do not meet current safety requirements. Most of these dams were designed with a 50 year planned service life, and with the peak of construction taking place in the 1960's, many need to be rebuilt to ensure they remain safe and continue to provide the benefits they are intended to provide. In recognition of this need, Congress passed legislation in 2000 authorizing the NRCS to assist watershed project sponsors to rehabilitate their aging dams. In partnership with the NRCS, the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has provided research support with regards to dam safety. This paper documents the cooperative efforts of federal, state, and local sponsors in the development of the USDA rehabilitation program and the program's accomplishments and challenges over the past 10 years.
Technical Abstract: It has been over a decade since Congress passed the Watershed Rehabilitation Amendments to the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act (Public Law 83-566). This legislation authorized the United States Department of Agriculture (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, the NRCS, working with local project sponsors, has constructed more than 11,400 dams across the United States. Many of these dams are now reaching the end of their 50-year design life. Rehabilitation of these dams will ensure they remain safe and 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 the USDA dam rehabilitation program.