EWP Frequently Asked Questions
Contact David Lamm, State Conservation Engineer, 732-537-6071
The Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) was set up by Congress to respond to emergencies created by natural disasters. It is designed to relieve imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms, and other natural occurrences. The purpose of EWP is to help groups of people with a common problem. It is generally not an individual assistance program. All projects undertaken must be sponsored by a political subdivision of the State, such as a city, county, general improvement district, or conservation district. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is responsible for administering the program.
After Hurricane Floyd hit New Jersey hard in September 1999, NRCS staff served on teams to assess stream damage that affected life, health and property. Pictured here with a local contractor is an NRCS engineer assessing streambank damage to Pohatcong Creek in Warren County.
With funding and engineering assistance from NRCS' EWP program, the Borough of Pohatcong sponsored two projects: shoring up and stabilizing the streambank with stones, and removing fallen trees that impeded the flow of water, causing erosion and silting.
Is financial assistance available?
NRCS may bear up to 75 percent of the construction cost of emergency measures. The remaining 25 percent must come from local sources and can be in the form of cash or in-kind services.
What are the criteria for assistance?
All EWP work must reduce threats to life and property. Furthermore, it must be economically and environmentally defensible and sound from an engineering standpoint. EWP work must yield benefits to more than one person. All work must represent the least expensive alternative.
Who is eligible?
Public and private landowners are eligible for assistance but must be represented by a project sponsor. The project sponsor must be a public agency of state, county, or city government, or a special district.
What does the sponsor have to do?
Sponsors are responsible for providing landrights to do repair work and securing the necessary permits. Sponsors are also responsible for furnishing the local cost share and for accomplishing the installation of work. The work can be done either through federal or local contracts.
What kind of work can be done?
EWP work is not limited to any one set of prescribed measures. A case by case investigation of the needed work is made by NRCS. EWP work can include: removing debris from stream channels, road culverts, and bridges; reshaping and protecting eroded banks; correcting damaged drainage facilities; repairing levees and structures; reseeding damaged areas; and purchasing floodplain easements.
What can't EWP do?
EWP funds cannot be used to solve problems that existed before the disaster or to improve the level of protection above that which existed prior to the disaster. EWP cannot fund operation and maintenance work, or repair private or public transportation facilities or utilities. EWP work cannot adversely affect downstream water rights, and EWP funds cannot be used to install measures not essential to the reduction of hazards. In addition, EWP funds cannot be used to perform work on measures installed by another federal agency.
How do I get assistance?
If you feel your area has suffered severe damage and may qualify under the EWP program, you are encouraged to contact your city or county government or soil conservation district -- the most common sponsors of EWP projects. The sponsor’s application should be in the form of a letter 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. Information is available from NRCS offices to explain the eligibility requirements for the EWP program. Send applications for assistance to your local USDA Service Center.