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Caribbean EWP - severe flooding and mass wasting from Hurricane Maria - Utuado

Emergency Watershed Protection - Caribbean

June 21, 2024

The Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program helps local communities recover after a natural disaster strikes. The program offers technical and financial assistance to help local communities relieve imminent threats to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms and natural disasters.

Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program


The EWP Program offers technical and financial assistance to help local communities relieve imminent threats to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms and other natural disasters that impair a watershed. EWP does not require a disaster declaration by federal or state government officials for program assistance to begin. The NRCS State Conservationist can declare a local watershed emergency and initiate EWP program assistance in cooperation with an eligible sponsor (see the Eligibility section below). NRCS will not provide funding for activities undertaken by a sponsor prior to the signing of a cooperative agreement between NRCS and the sponsor.

NRCS offers financial and technical assistance for various activities under the EWP Program, including: 

  • Remove debris from stream channels, road culverts and bridges;
  • reshape and protect eroded streambanks;
  • correct damaged or destroyed drainage facilities;
  • establish vegetative cover on critically eroding lands;
  • repair levees and structures;       
  • repair certain conservation practices, and
  • purchase of EWP Buyouts.
EWP Streambank stabilization

EWP Project Criteria

-provide protection from flooding or soil erosion;

-reduce threats to life and property;

-restore the hydraulic capacity to the natural environment;

-economically and environmentally defensible.


Recovery Projects

Recovery projects begin with a local sponsor or legal subdivision of state or tribal government. Eligible sponsors include cities, counties, towns, conservation districts, or any federally-recognized Native American tribe or tribal organization. Interested public and private landowners must work through a sponsor.


In some situations, landowners can directly apply for assistance through a floodplain easement at the local NRCS office when project funding for floodplain easements becomes available. States will hold a signup period for the impacted communities and the local NRCS offices will publicize that information in the affected communities.

The EWP Program cannot be used:

  • to address the same structural issue or practice 3 times within 10 years;
  • for existing operation and maintenance;
  • to repair, rebuild, or maintain any transportation facilities, utilities, or similar facilities;
  • to restore projects installed by another federal agency;
  • to repair nonstructural management practices;
  • to repair coastal erosions to beaches, dunes, and shorelines, including those along the Great Lakes;
  • if the recovery measures are eligible for the Emergency Conservation Program offered thru the Farm Service Agency (FSA).
Sponsor eligibliity

Locally-Led Solutions

All EWP projects must have a sponsor and demonstrate that they reduce threats to life and property; be economically, environmentally and socially sound; and must be designed to acceptable engineering standards.

NRCS partners with diverse sponsors to complete EWP Program projects. Sponsors include cities, counties, towns, conservation districts, or any federally-recognized Native American tribe or tribal organization.

Sponsors can apply for EWP Program assistance directly to NRCS while public and private landowners can apply for this assistance through a local sponsor.

Check out the EWP Sponsor Resource page for more information.

EWP Fact Sheet Icon
EWP Fact Sheet

Caribbean Emergency Watershed Protection

Assessment of potential hurricane Fiona EWP project site in Patillas, Puerto Rico, 27 September 2022.

NRCS Now Accepting Hurricane Fiona EWP Applications

Sponsors should submit request for assistance letters ASAP. The Fiona EWP site submission deadline is October 31, 2022. Contact EWP Coordinator Lisbeth San Miguel at

Luis Garcia seeking field staff in Utuado PR after Hurricane Maria - in front of destroyed house falling into the river.

Caribbean EWP Project Status

EWPP helps conserve natural resources by relieving imminent threats to life and property. In the Caribbean Area, EWPP is clearing and repairing  waterways impacted by hurricanes Irma and María in September 2017 and tropical storms Dorian (2019) and Isaías (2020). Through EWPP, NRCS works with land stewards, land owners and local government agencies to assess and implement debris removal and streambank stabilization in directly impacted areas. Sponsors include municipalities, conservation districts, the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER), and the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works (DPW). 

EWP site assessment in Caguas - July 2022

February 5-6, 2022 Storm Event EWP Update:

  • 19 Sites selected
  • over $2.6M estimated cost

Isaías EWP (July 31, 2020) Update:

  • 16 sites completed
  • over $484K invested

Dorian EWP (August 2019) Update:

  • 3 Sites selected
  • over $432K estimated cost

Irma/ María EWP (September 2017) Update:

  • 325 sites completed
  • over $14.7 million invested
Utuado EWP site assessment post hurricane Maria

Results of October-November 2017 Disaster Assessments:

  • >1,000 potential sites assessed in PR & USVI
  • 515 exigency project sites selected to remove debris from waterways
  • 2 watershed dams in PR selected to repair erosion

Want an overview of EWP Implementation in the Caribbean Area after Hurricanes Irma & María? Check out our YouTube webinar at


Yilia BaucageBou, State Conservation Engineer, 787-766-5715 or 787-342-6916

Lisbeth San Miguel Rivera, EWP Coordinator, 787-766-6140 or 939-208-0931

Other Disaster Assistance

Ready to get started?

Contact your local service center to start your application.

Find Your Local Service Center

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit

How to Get Assistance

Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?

Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.

how to get started

To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.

NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.

We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:

  • To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
  • To meet other eligibility certifications.

Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.

Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.

As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:

  • An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
  • A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
  • A farm number.

If you don’t have a farm number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm number if you’re interested in financial assistance.

NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants. View Application Ranking Dates by State.

If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.

Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.