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Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP)

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The purpose of the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program is to undertake emergency measures, including purchase of flood plain easements, for runoff retardation and soil erosion prevention to safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, erosion, landslides and sedimentation on any watershed whenever fire, flood, storms 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. The program's objective is to assist sponsors (local agencies / organizations) and individuals in implementing emergencyBethlehem pond emergency spillway safely transporting tropical storm flows after EWP completion. measures to relieve imminent hazards to life and property created by a natural disaster. Activities that can be funded include providing financial and technical assistance to remove debris from streams, protecting destabilized streambanks, establishing cover on critically eroding lands, repairing conservation practices, and purchasing flood plain easements. EWP 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).  The following is an excerpt from Section 216, P.L.81-516 (as amended) that pertains to the 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."

Flooding in Loiza, PR from Hurricane Irene (photo taken 8/24/11 by Yuisa Rios, courtesy of FEMA)Emergency 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 (EWPP) 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 EWPP 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.

For More Information:

Contact

Damaris Medina, State Conservation Engineer, 787-766-5206 x.125.