Emergency Watershed Protection
The Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program was created by Congress to respond to watershed emergencies caused by natural disasters. It allows NRCS to address problems in the watershed caused by floods, fires, windstorms and other natural occurrences when they cause an imminent threat to life and property. This program was authorized by Section 216, P.L. 81-516 and Sections 403-405, P.L. 95-334. EWP is a disaster recovery program made available in emergency situations when neither the state nor the local community is able to repair a damaged watershed.
The purpose of the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program is to undertake emergency measures. It is not necessary for a national emergency to be declared for an area to be eligible for assistance. The 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.
Section 382 of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, Public Law 104-127, amended the Emergency Watershed Program (EWP) to provide for the purchase of floodplain easements as an emergency measure. Since 1996, 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.
EWP assists groups of people with a common problem rather than providing assistance on an individual basis. All EWP projects must be sponsored by a political subdivision of the state; such as a city, county, tribe or conservation district. The sponsor secures land rights and funds 25 percent of the project cost, either in cash or in-kind contributions. NRCS administers the program and provides technical assistance.
The following is an 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
EWP - Assistance Provided in New Jersey
Program Contact: David Lamm, State Conservation Engineer, 732-537-6071