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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.

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. 


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
  • accomplishing the installation of work, work can be done either through Federal or local contracts
  • providing 25 percent of the cost to install the recovery measures, either in cash or by in-kind contributions of materials or service and thru the EWP program; NRCS could reimburse up to 75 percent of the cost to install recovery measures

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 county 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 local NRCS offices.

Program Signup Information

Excerpt from Section 216, P.L. 81-516 - further clarification of the EWP Program.
Final Rule, 7 CFR Part 624 (April 2005) (PDF, 97 KB)