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EWP Fact Sheet

Emergency Watershed Protection Program Fact Sheet

If a sudden flooding or erosion event is threatening your community, you might be eligible for assistance.



The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program on state, tribal and private lands by providing technical and financial assistance to local sponsoring authorities.

Communities and landowners use EWP for emergency measures, including the purchase of flood plain easements, to safeguard lives and property from a natural disaster that has caused a sudden impairment of the watershed.

What is a natural disaster?

For purposes of EWP assistance, a natural disaster can be, but is not limited to, a flood, fire, windstorm, ice storm, earthquake, volcanic action, landslide and drought.

What are sudden watershed impairments?

Sudden watershed impairments can include, among other things, debris-clogged stream channels, undermined and unstable streambanks, jeopardized water control structures, and endangered public infrastructure. If not addressed, watershed impairments would pose a serious threat of injury, loss of life or devastating property damage should a subsequent event occur.

What assistance does EWP provide?

EWP provides free technical assistance in the form of engineers, foresters, agronomists, real estate specialists, soil scientists, GIS specialists and other natural resource experts to help evaluate the watershed impairment caused by the natural disaster.

EWP can also provide financial assistance, at 75 percent cost share, to sponsoring entities to restore watershed functions following the natural disaster.

In some cases, EWP financial assistance can also be used to conduct a voluntary buy-out program to restore floodplain functions and permanently remove property from harm’s way.


To be eligible for EWP assistance, a qualified sponsoring organization must request assistance within 60 days of the sudden natural disaster. A sponsoring organization can be a component of state government, a tribe or tribal organization, or a unit of local government. Sponsors must contribute their share of project costs (including any agreed upon in-kind goods or services); obtain any necessary real property rights, water rights and regulatory permits; and agree to provide for any required operation and maintenance of the completed emergency measures.

How to request assistance:

Sponsors must submit a formal request to the NRCS State Conservationist within 60 days of the natural disaster. Once a request is received, NRCS staff will investigate the situation and prepare a damage survey report to determine if EWP is applicable. At that time staff will also prepare an initial cost estimate for submission to the NRCS Chief. If the EWP is deemed applicable to the situation and funding is approved, NRCS will proceed with engineering design, contracting and construction for the project.

Additional Important Information

  • The natural disaster must be significant to qualify for assistance.
  • Coastal erosion is not eligible.
  • Preexisting problems are not eligible.
  • Damages to homes, buildings roads, sewer or water systems that result from the natural disaster cannot be repaired with EWP assistance. EWP can address erosion threatening these structures, but cannot repair the structures themselves.


Program Contact:

Phil Naegele, Assistant State Conservationist - Operations
(907) 761-7758

Your Local NRCS Field Office