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Emergency Watershed Protection Program

What is the EWP Program?

NRCS administers the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, in response 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

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).

It can include purchasing floodplain easements. These easements can restore, protect, maintain, and enhance the functions of wetlands and riparian areas. They also conserve natural values including fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, flood water retention, ground water recharge, and safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, and the products of erosion. EWP work is not limited to any one set of prescribed measures. A case-by-case investigation of the work is made by NRCS.

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.


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 the neces­sary permits
  • furnishing the local cost share
  • accomplishing the installation of work
  • work can be done either through Federal or local contracts

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.