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Emergency Watershed Protection Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, which responds 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.

Work is authorized by section 216, P.L. 81-516, (33 U.S.C. 701b1) and Sections 403-405, P.L. 95-334, (16 U.S.C. 2203-2205).

The following is an excerpt from Section 216, P.L.81-516 (as amended) that pertains to NRCS EWP Program.

"The Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to undertake emergency measures, including the purchase of floodplain easements, for runoff retardation and soil erosion prevention, in cooperation with landowners and land users, as the Secretary deems necessary 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 that watershed."

Type of Work Authorized

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.

EWP work is not limited to any one set of prescribed measures.  A case-by-case investigation of the work is made by NRCS.

Section 382 of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, Public Law 104-127, amended the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWPP) to provide for the purchase of floodplain easements as an emergency measure. Since 1996, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has purchased floodplain easements on lands that qualify for EWPP assistance. Floodplain easements restore, protect, maintain, and enhance the functions of the floodplain; conserve natural values including fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, flood water retention, ground water recharge, and open space; reduce long-term federal disaster assistance; and safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, and the products of erosion. For more information please select the link below.

EWP Floodplain Easement Facts | NRCS


Public and private landowners are eligible for assistance but 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 contacts).

How do I Get Assistance

If you have suffered severe damage that may qualify for the EWP program, you should contact your local authorities and request assistance.

City and parish governments, flood and water control districts, and soil and water conservation districts are the most common sponsors of EWP projects.  Contact them directly to see if they are aware of the program or have contacted NRCS for help.  More information is available from NRCS offices throughout Louisiana.

EWP Information

The following document requires Adobe Acrobat.

EWP Brochure (PDF; 68 KB)


If you have any questions, please contact W. Britt Paul, Assistant State Conservationist for Water Resources at 318-473-7756.