Rapid watershed assessments (RWA) provide
initial estimates of where conservation
investments would best address the concerns
of landowners, conservation districts, and other
community organizations and stakeholders within a
watershed. These assessments help landowners and
local leaders set priorities and determine the best
actions to achieve their goals.
Information Included in RWAs
RWAs contain summaries of resource concerns
and opportunities that are useful for a number of
activities. They provide information that can be used
in conservation district annual and long range plans
or provide a foundation for watershed, area-wide,
or site-specific planning. The diagram below shows
RWAs in the context of the entire NRCS planning
• Status and history of resource conservation in the
• References and data sources.
RWAs contain two components: a watershed resource
profile and an assessment matrix.
The watershed resource profile compiles the best
readily-available data, including:
• A general description of the location, size, and
political units associated with the watershed.
• Physical description including land use/land
cover, precipitation/climate, common resource
areas, stream flow data, land capability class, etc.
• Known resource concerns.
• Census and social data.
Figure 1: Example resource profile cover page
The Assessment Matrix summarizes, in tabular form,
current resource conditions and related maintenance
costs. It also summarizes desired resource conditions,
conservation opportunities and related installation
and maintenance costs, qualitative effects on primary
resource concerns, and potential funding sources for
The Assessment Matrix contains:
• Current Conditions Table—detailing the current
level of conservation in the watershed.
• Future Conditions Table—identifying appropriate
suites of conservation practices needed to deal
with the primary resource concerns for each
major land use.