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Emergency Watershed Protection Program

Damage caused by hurricane Irene. Click image for full screen view
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Damages Caused by the Natural Disasters of Irene and Lee

In New York, the Federal Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program has obligated $31.5 million to local units of government for addressing public safety and restoration efforts on public and private lands. Local sponsors such as a city, town, county, or Tribe, have applied for additional assistance. There is $9.5 million in projects on a wait list for additional Federal funding. Federal EWP funding bears up to 75 percent of the construction costs. The remaining 25 percent must be obtained by the local sponsor and New York State has made grant funding available for local sponsors to use as a match. These projects have already obtained the local match.

This funding has been allocated through a new Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee Flood Mitigation Grant Program. The Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) administers this program in collaboration with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). The total amount of funding is $9 million. Grants range from a minimum of $300,000 to a maximum of $500,000 per county for eligible projects.


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. Most EWP work is for the protection of threatened infrastructure from continued stream erosion. Please contact your local authorities and/or your local NRCS office to find out if your project qualifies for the EWP program.

Emergency Watershed Protection Program work in progress. Click image for full screen view
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Emergency Watershed Protection Program work in progress. Click image for full screen view
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The Facts

Congress established the EWP program and provides funding for it. Please know that eligibility for the program does not depend upon the declaration of a national emergency. 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 an Indian Tribe or Tribal organization as defined in Section 4 of the Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. Sponsors are responsible for:

  • Providing land rights to do repair work;
  • Securing necessary permits;
  • Furnishing the local cost share (25 percent); and
  • Performing any necessary operation and maintenance for a ten year period.

How It Works

Through EWP, the NRCS may pay up to 75 percent 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. No work done prior to a project agreement can be included as in-kind services or part of the cost share. 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; and
  • Wind-borne debris removal
Emergency Watershed Protection Program work in progress. Click image for full screen view Emergency Watershed Protection Program work in progress. Click image for full screen view Emergency Watershed Protection Program work in progress. Click image for full screen view
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NRCS completes a Damage Survey Report (DSR) 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. A project agreement is completed including NRCS and sponsor responsibilities. Sponsors that are capable are encouraged to do the design, contracting and construction inspection. This can be reimbursed up to 7.5 percent of the total construction cost.

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

Flood Mitigation/Recovery Funding Opportunities (PDF; 62 KB)
Emergency Watershed Protection Program Factsheet (PDF; 175 KB)
Application for Emergency Watershed Protection Program Assistance - Sample letter (PDF; 10 KB)

Design Tools for Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Projects

Download design tools to assist in the design and documentation of EWP projects.

  • Conservation Practice Standards
  • Construction Specifications
  • Contracting Documents
  • Design Spreadsheets
  • Materials Specifications
  • Standard Drawings and Details


National Emergency Watershed Program Brochure
Stream Corridor Restoration - NRCS National Design, Construction, and Soil Mechanics Center

Field Office Technical Guide - County Locator
Field Office Technical Guide
Service Center Locator

Program Manager

Ronald Young, Civil Engineer (AEM)
Syracuse, New York
Telephone: 315-477-6545
E-mail: Ronald Young

Contact Information

Paula C. Bagley, State Conservation Engineer
Syracuse, New York
Telephone: 315-477-6538 or 607-865-7090
E-mail: Paula Bagley