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Emergency Watershed Protection Program

debris in canal after hurricane

The purpose of the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program is to undertake emergency measures, including the purchase of flood plain easements, for runoff retardation and soil erosion prevention to safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, and the products of erosion on any watershed whenever fire, flood or any other natural occurrence is causing or has caused a sudden impairment of the watershed.

It is not necessary for a national emergency to be declared for an area to be eligible for assistance. Program objective is to assist sponsors and individuals in implementing emergency measures to relieve imminent hazards to life and property created by a natural disaster. Activities include providing financial and technical assistance to remove debris from streams, protect destabilized stream banks, establish cover on critically eroding lands, repairing conservation practices, and the purchase of flood plain easements. The program is designed for installation of recovery measures.

Work is authorized by section 216, P.L. 81-516, (33 U.S.C. 701b1) and Sections 403-405, P.L. 95-334, (16 U.S.C. 2203-2205).  Excerpt from Section 216, P.L.81-516 (as amended) that pertains to NRCS EWP Program

"The Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to undertake emergency measures, including the purchase of floodplain easements, for runoff retardation and soil erosion prevention, in cooperation with landowners and land users, as the Secretary deems necessary to safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, and the products of erosion on any watershed whenever fire, flood, or any other natural occurrence is causing or has caused a sudden impairment of that watershed."

erosion after stormEmergency Watershed Protection - Floodplain Easement

Background
Section 382 of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, Public Law 104-127, amended the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) to provide for the purchase of floodplain easements as an emergency measure. Since 1996, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has purchased floodplain easements on lands that qualify for EWP assistance. Floodplain easements restore, protect, maintain, and enhance the functions of the floodplain; conserve natural values including fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, flood water retention, ground water recharge, and open space; reduce long-term federal disaster assistance; and safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, and the products of erosion.

More information:

National NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection Program Manual
Emergency Watershed Protection - Floodplain Easement National website
EWP Fact Sheet (PDF)
Sample letter of request  (DOC 33 kb)
Sponsor’s EWP Guide (PDF 1.24 mb)

City and county governments, improvement districts, conservation districts, and tribal governments are the most common sponsors of EWP projects. An eligible sponsor’s application should be in the form of a letter of request to the NRCS State Conservationist signed by an official of the sponsoring organization. The letter should include information on the nature, location, and scope of the problem for which assistance is requested. (see sample letter above) Information is available from NRCS offices to explain the eligibility requirements for the EWP program.

Upon receiving the letter of request, NRCS will conduct a site visit to determine eligibility.  At the site visit, a Damage Survey Report (DSR) will be completed to document the site conditions, proposed solutions, environmental impacts, and economic analysis.  The DSR will be used to determine eligibility and priority for funding, if eligible.  

 


Florida Program Contact

Jesse Wilson, State Conservation Engineer, 352-338-9557