Emergency Watershed Protection Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, which responds to emergencies created by natural disasters. It is not necessary for a national emergency to be declared for an area to be eligible for assistance.
The program is designed to help people and conserve natural resources by relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms, and other natural occurrences. EWP is an emergency recovery program. All projects undertaken, with the exception of the purchase of floodplain easements, must have a project sponsor.
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. Funding is subject to Congressional approval.
Type of Work Authorized
EWP is designed for installation of recovery measures. Activities include providing financial and technical assistance to:
remove debris from stream channels, road culverts, and bridges,
reshape and protect eroded banks,
correct damaged drainage facilities,
establish cover on critically eroding lands,
repair levees and structures, and
repair conservation practices.
NRCS may purchase EWPP easements "in lieu of recovery" on any floodplain lands that have been impaired within the last 12 months or that have a history of repeated flooding (i.e., flooded at least two times during the past 10 years). EWP-Floodplain Easement (FPE) is an alternative for the EWP Recovery Program, and not the norm.
EWP work is not limited to any one set of prescribed measures. A case-by-case investigation of the work is made by NRCS.
Public and private landowners are eligible for assistance but must be represented by a project sponsor. Sponsors include legal subdivisions of the State, such as a city, county, general improvement district, conservation district, or any Native American tribe or tribal organization as defined in section 4 of the Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.
Sponsors are responsible for:
providing land rights to do repair work
securing the necessary permits
furnishing the local cost share
accomplishing the installation of work
work can be done either through Federal or local contracts.
How Do I Get Assistance?
If you have suffered severe damage that may qualify for the EWP program, you should contact your local authorities and request assistance.
City and county governments, flood and water control districts, and soil and water conservation districts are the most common sponsors of EWP projects. Contact them directly to see if they are aware of the program or have contacted NRCS for help. More information is available from NRCS offices throughout the United States and the Caribbean and Pacific Basin Areas.
Program Signup Information
Excerpt from Section 216, P.L. 81-516 - further clarification of the EWP Program.
Final Rule, 7 CFR Part 624 (April 2005) (PDF, 97 KB)
If you have any questions, please contact Fred Reaves, National Emergency Watershed Protection Program Manager at 202-690-0793.