The Senate yesterday approved President Carter's $4 billion public works plan intended to stimulate the economy and reduce unemployment by giving local governments money to build schools, hospital, bridges, courthouses and other projects.

The legislation was sent to the House.

House sponsors have estimated that the progeam could create up to 300,000 jobs this year.

The bill, approved 71 to 14 in the Seante, also declares that Carter cannot drop any water or dam projects unless he gets congressional approval.

The House takes up the bill Tuesday. Passage there would make it the first of Carter's economic stimulus package to clear Congress.

The government began the public works jobs program last year by spending $2 billion on local projects, but it got $24 billion in applications from local governments.

Virtually all of this year's money is to be spent on existing applications. The government will approve many of the projects in May and June, near the start of the construction season.

Big cities complained that last year's program set aside too much money for areas that had no real unemployment problem. This year's bill distributes 65 per cent of the money on the basis of the number of unemployed in each state.

The other 35 per cent is given only to states which have had unemployment rates over 6.5 per cent. The national unemployment rate in March stood at 7.3 per cent.

The jobs bill had been held up for seven weeks in a disagreement between the House and Senate over whether to include funds to extend a water pollution program. The House and Senate could not agree on terms of the measure and decided to consider water pollution separately.