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Flood Control Subventions Program

Administrating Agency: Resources Agency
Bond: Proposition 84
Department Name: Department of Water Resources
Bond Statute: 75034
Implementing Statute: Water Code Section 12570-12875

  • Front-end
  • In-Progress
  • Follow-up

The Flood Control Subventions Program is authorized by the California Water Code, Division 6, Part 6, Chapters 1 through 4.  The Flood Control Subventions Program provides financial assistance to the non-federal partners (local agencies) cooperating in the construction of federally authorized flood control projects located outside of the Central Valley (facilities considered as non- State Plan of Flood Control).  DWR is responsible for administering and disbursing funds for the Flood Control Subventions Program.  There are three types of federally authorized projects that are eligible for the flood control subventions program funding:

  • Major Flood Control Projects (authorized by USACE and Congress)
  • Small Flood Control Projects: small USACE projects authorized by Section 205 of Public Law 80-858 and USACE
  • Watershed Protection Projects : Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) projects, authorized by the Administrator of the NRCS after the reports are reviewed by the Agriculture Committees of Congress and by Water Code Section 12868.


The national flood control program was enacted in 1936, which required nonfederal interests to pay the costs of rights of way and relocations for channel improvements and levee projects. State law enacted in 1945 provides for reimbursements to local flood control agencies for all rights of way and relocation costs of channel improvement and levee projects. In 1973, state statute was changed to one of State-local cost sharing for flood damage prevention features of channel improvement and levee projects. State participation in the nonfederal capital costs of recreation and fish and wildlife enhancement features was also added to the program in 1973. In 1988, State statute was modified to reflect the 1986 changes in federal policy.


Statutes of 2000 (pursuant to Assembly Bill No.1147)  amended the California Water Code to  require flood management projects to meet prescribed requirements prior to state authorization and created a variable state cost-share percentage, based on multi-purpose objectives for the projects, ranging from a minimum of 50 percent to a maximum of 70 percent. Statutes of 2010 (pursuant to Assembly Bill No.1788) amended the process for determining the percentage of state financial assistance pertaining to economically disadvantaged areas for the projects.


The cooperating local agency enters into an agreement with the federal agency constructing the project. The local agency is responsible to the federal agency for providing the nonfederal share of project costs. If the local agency complies with the Water Code and guidelines of the Subventions Program, it can expect reimbursement of the State share of its costs. Any costs incurred contrary to the Water Code and guidelines must be borne by the local agency.

Additional information on this program may be found on the Department of Water Resources website.


Once a project is authorized for State financial assistance and a federal construction appropriation has been made, local flood-control agencies are entitled to seek reimbursement for the State share of their expenditures. The Department logs the claims as they are submitted and indicates the date the local agency submits the claim. The claim date sets the priority for the claim, as they are reviewed and paid under a “first in – first out” method. The claims are then reviewed, and the Department presents its determination of eligible costs in engineering reports. Eligible costs are based on the Water Code and the Guidelines for State Reimbursement on Flood Control Projects, dated February 1974. Local agencies also request Department of Water Resources to make eligibility determinations prior to incurring costs.


Section 12832 of the California Water Code provides for a final audit by the State Controller’s Office (SCO) of the claims received and reviewed by the Department. After the Department determines the eligible costs, ninety percent of the claim is paid to the local agency, and ten percent is withheld pending the final audit by SCO. Once the Controller performs the final audit, any balance due to the local agencies are paid as soon as funds are available. The Department works closely with the Controller’s Office to ensure timely audits of the claims.