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News Release

Emergency Watershed Protection Program Helps Caribbean Area Communities Recover from Hurricanes

Damaris Medina, State Conservation Engineer
787-766-5715 / 787-342-6916

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Helping People Help the Land - Hurricane RecoveryUSDA Extends 100% Funding of EWPP Projects to December 10, 2018

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Caribbean Area Director, Edwin Almodóvar, announces the extension of 100% funding for Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWPP) projects to December 10, 2018. USDA is extending the 100% project cost-share in response to the tremendous workload facing local and federal agencies following the magnitude of destruction wreaked by Hurricanes Irma & María.

Torrential rains from Hurricanes Irma & Maria (almost 38” at one location near Cayey) scattered debris into drainage ways across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, causing waterways to overflow their banks and wreaking havoc in coastal areas. Through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWPP), NRCS is working with communities in these hard-hit areas to remove debris, stabilize stream banks and fix water control structures. NRCS has put together a team led by State Engineer Damaris Medina and acting Caribbean Area Emergency Watershed Protection Program Coordinator, Edwin Martínez-Martínez, supported by our local NRCS and ACES engineers and engineers on detail from across the country

“Our EWP team has been doing a phenomenal job! They have met with over 25 municipalities, are coordinating efforts with FEMA and local Soil & Water Conservation Districts, and are making significant progress with contracting,” said Director Almodóvar.

The EWPP Program helps landowners and municipalities to restore and conserve natural resources by relieving imminent hazards to life and property. This program is available to the Caribbean Area in response to the damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and María.

NRCS is completing detailed resource assessments to provide site-specific information to help develop strategies to efficiently address the EWPP workload in the Caribbean Area. NRCS is focusing well-planned conservation systems in priority locations; these systems will safeguard life and property and provide high environmental and economic benefits.

NRCS is partnering with land stewards, landowners, and local governments to assess and implement conservation practices in priority areas. Partners involved include the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, local municipalities, Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD), and the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works.

Immediately following hurricane María, a national team of 16 NRCS engineers and conservationists from across the country joined local staff to complete Disaster Survey Reports (DSRs) for 441 exigency projects (imminent threat to life and property – debris removal only) across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (total estimated cost of $31 million). An additional 122 non-exigency sites (non-urgent threats to life and property) have also been identified, and DSRs are now being completed for those projects.

Before and after shots of Juana Diaz EWP project 013, completed May 30, 2018 – removal of sediment 90 feet upstream of existing bridge, removal of vegetative debris upstream and downstream of existing bridge and cleaning of single arch culvert bridgeTo date, over 80 critical sites have been addressed, over 35 via EWPP and the rest by local municipalities and/or other federal agencies. Projects have been completed in Adjuntas, Aguadilla, Añasco, Arroyo, Baranquitas, Bayamon, Cabo Rojo, Caguas, Ceiba, Coamo, Gurabo, Isabela, Jayuya, Juana Diaz, Juncos, Lajas, Lares, Moca, Naranjito, Orocovis, Ponce, San German, San Lorenzo, San Sebastian, Utuado, Vega Alta, Vega Baja and Yauco municipalities by EWP Sponsors.

For more information on the Emergency Watershed Protection program, contact State Conservation Engineer, Damaris Medina, at 787-766-5715 (office), 787-342-6916 (mobile) or


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Release # 2018-12