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Emergency Watershed Protection Program

The purpose of the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program is to undertake emergency measures, including the purchase of flood plain easements, for runoff retardation and soil erosion prevention to safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, and the products of erosion on any watershed whenever fire, flood or any other natural occurrence is causing or has caused a sudden impairment of the watershed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is financial assistance available?

EWP is a cost-share program, so NRCS may pay up to 75 percent of the construction cost of the installed emergency measures. The remaining 25 percent must come from local sources but can be in the form of cash or in-kind services.

What are the criteria for assistance?

Specific criteria apply for EWP work including: the project must reduce threats to life and property, be environmentally sound, yield benefits to more than one person, and be the least cost solution to address the emergency. 

Who is eligible?

Public and private lands are eligible for assistance but must be represented by a project sponsor. The project sponsor must be a public agency of state, county, or city government, or a special district, such as a conservation district.

What are the sponsor responsibilities?

Sponsors are responsible for acquiring any landrights needed to complete the emergency work.  Sponsors must also obtain any necessary local, state, and/or federal permits.   Work can be done through local or federal contracts, but sponsors are responsible for a portion of the cost and for ensuring the project is completed according to specifications. 

What kind of work can be done?

EWP work depends on the site and situation.   EWP work can include: removing debris from stream channels, road culverts, and bridges; reshaping and protecting eroded banks; correcting damaged drainage facilities; reseeding damaged areas; and purchasing floodplain easements.

What kind of work cannot be funded by  EWP?

EWP cannot fund routine operation and maintenance work, or repair private or public transportation facilities or utilities.  In addition, EWP funds cannot be used to perform work on measures installed by another federal agency (other than NRCS).   The EWP program cannot be used to solve waterway problems that existed before the disaster or to increase the level of flood protection above that which existed prior to the disaster.

How do I get assistance?

Information is available from NRCS offices to explain the eligibility requirements for the EWP program.  In most cases, you will contact your city or county government or soil conservation district -- the most common sponsors of EWP projects. The sponsor’s application should be in the form of a letter signed by an official of the sponsoring organization, that includes information on the nature, location, and scope of the problem for which assistance is requested. For more assistance contact the EWP Program Manager or your local USDA Service Center.  

State Contact

State Conservation Engineer