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Emergency Watershed Protection Program

What is the EWP Program?

Through the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can help communities address watershed impairments that pose imminent threats to lives and property. If your land has suffered damage due to flood, fire, drought, windstorm, or other natural occurrence, please contact your local authorities and/or your local NRCS office to find out if you qualify for the EWP program.

Congress established the EWP Program and provides its funding. Eligibility for the program does not depend upon the declaration of a national emergency; however, a disaster must be declared (normally done by the President) before EWP funds are available.

All projects undertaken through EWP, with the exception of the purchase of floodplain easements, must have a project sponsor. Sponsors must be a legal subdivision of the state such as a city, county, general improvement district or conservation district, or a Native American Tribe or Tribal organization as defined in Section 4 of the Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.

 

  • Sponsor has 60 days after the storm event to request assistance through a letter to the NRCS state conservationist
  • Sponsor has 220 days after funding arrives to complete an EWP recovery project
  • Sponsor has 10 days after funding to complete an EWP exigency (i.e., debris removal) project
  • Sponsor must work closely with NRCS staff to meet all EWP requirements
  • Sponsors are responsible for:
    • Providing land rights to do repair work
    • Securing necessary permits
    • Furnishing the local cost share
    • Accomplishing the installation of work
    • Performing any necessary operation and maintenance

Through EWP, NRCS may pay up to 75% of the construction costs of emergency measures. Ninety percent may be paid for projects within limited-resource areas as identified by U.S. Census data. The remaining costs must come from local sources and can be made in cash or in-kind services.

All EWP projects must reduce threats to lives and property; be economically, environmentally, and socially defensible; be designed and implemented according to sound technical standards; and conserve natural resources.

Type of Work Authorized

As mentioned above, the EWP Program addresses watershed impairments, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Debris-clogged stream channels
  • Undermined and unstable streambanks
  • Jeopardized water control structures and public infrastructures
  • Wind-borne debris removal
  • Damaged upland sites stripped of protective vegetation by fire or drought

Floodplain easements for restoring, protecting, maintaining, and enhancing the functions and values of floodplains, including associated wetlands and riparian areas, are available through EWP. These easements also help conserve fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, flood water retention, and ground water recharge, as well as safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, and erosion. EWP work is not limited to any one set of measures.

NRCS completes a Damage Survey Report that provides a case-by-case investigation of the work necessary to repair or protect a site. NRCS will only provide funding for work that is necessary to reduce applicable threats.

Sponsors that want to increase the level of protection in a particular project are responsible for paying 100% of the costs of the desired upgrade and additional work.

Additional information about federal assistance programs, safety tips, and updates about USDA’s hurricane relief efforts are posted online at USDA's Disaster Resource Center's Hufficane Relief section. Information about the U.S. Government’s hurricane response efforts is available at Ready.gov.

NRCS may purchase EWPP easements 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).

Eligibility

Public and private landowners are eligible for assistance; however,  private landowners with land having a residence or other structure 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.

Sponsor's Obligations

Sponsors are responsible for:

  • Providing land rights to do repair work
  • Securing necessary permits
  • Furnishing the local cost share
  • Accomplishing the installation of work
  • Performing any necessary operation and maintenance

Application Form - AD-1153 (PDF)

EWP Factsheet (PDF)

FPE Checklist (PDF)

Landowner Disclosure Form (PDF)

EWP Program Floodplain Warranty Easement Deed (PDF)

Emergency Watershed Protection Program - Floodplain Easement Option

EWP-FPE provides an alternative measure to traditional EWP recovery, where it is determined that acquiring an easement in lieu of recovery measures is the more economical and prudent approach to reducing a threat to life or property.