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Emergency Watershed Protection Program

The Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program was set up by Congress to respond to emergencies created by natural disasters. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is responsible for administering the program.

EWP is designed to relieve imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms, and other natural occurrences. It is not necessary for a national emergency to be declared for an area to be eligible for assistance. Activities include providing financial and technical assistance to remove debris from streams, protect destabilized streambanks, establish cover on critically eroding lands, repairing conservation practices, and the purchase of flood plain easements.

The purpose of EWP is to help groups of people with a common problem.  EWP is generally not an individual assistance program. All projects undertaken must be sponsored by a political subdivision of the State, such as a city, county, general improvement district or conservation district, or by a tribal government.

Information for Individual Landowners or Citizens

If you feel your area has suffered severe damage and may qualify under the EWP program as described below, you are encouraged to contact your local general improvement district or county supervisor to request assistance through the EWP program. City and county governments, general improvement districts, conservation districts, and tribal governments are the most common sponsors of EWP projects.

NRCS works closely with potential EWP sponsors to expedite the application and approval process.  A sponsor approved for EWP funding then works with NRCS to help affected landowners install emergency measures on the land.

EWP Assistance

EWP work is not limited to any one set of prescribed measures. A case by case investigation is done by NRCS to establish that the work is necessary to reduce threats to life and/or property. EWP work may include such items as: removing debris from stream channels, road culverts, and bridges; reshaping and protecting eroded banks; repairing levees and structures; reseeding damaged areas; and purchasing floodplain easements.

NRCS may bear up to 75 percent of the construction cost of emergency measures or up to 90 percent in limited resource areas. The remaining cost share must come from local sources and can be in the form of cash or in-kind services.

Criteria for Assistance

  • All EWP work must reduce threats to life and property.
  • EWP work must yield benefits to more than one person.
  • The work must be sound from an engineering standpoint.
  • The work must be economically and environmentally defensible.


Public and private landowners are eligible for assistance but must be represented by a project sponsor. The project sponsor must be a:

  • public agency of state,
  • county,
  • city government,
  • special district, or
  • tribal government.

The sponsor should work with their local NRCS office to apply for EWP funding. The application should be in the form of a letter signed by an official of the sponsoring organization. The letter should include information on the nature, location, and scope of the problem for which assistance is requested. Further eligibility and application information is available from local USDA NRCS offices.

Sponsor Responsibilities

Sponsors are responsible for providing land rights to do repair work and securing the necessary permits. Sponsors are also responsible for furnishing the local cost share and for accomplishing the installation of work. The work can be done either through federal or local contracts.

Program Limitations

EWP funds cannot be used to solve problems that existed before the disaster or to improve the level of protection above that which existed prior to the disaster. EWP cannot fund operation and maintenance work, or repair private or public transportation facilities or utilities. EWP work cannot adversely affect downstream water rights, and EWP funds cannot be used to install measures not essential to the reduction of hazards. In addition, EWP funds cannot be used to perform work on measures installed by another federal agency.

Ten Steps to EWP Assistance:  An Overview of the EWP Process

  1. A potential EWP sponsor contacts the local USDA NRCS office.
  2. The sponsor applies for EWP through NRCS.
  3. NRCS investigates the site.
  4. NRCS determines whether the situation qualifies for EWP assistance.
  5. NRCS requests government funding for the EWP project.
  6. The sponsor is notified of funding eligibility.
  7. NRCS coordinates and plans the EWP work in cooperation with the sponsor.
  8. The sponsor coordinates land rights and permits.
  9. The sponsor and NRCS work cooperatively with individuals and landowners to implement the EWP plan of work.
  10. The sponsor works with landowners to ensure the operation and maintenance of completed measures.



Local Contact:
Please contact the District Conservationist in the USDA Service Center nearest the location of your property.

Oregon EWP Program Manager:
Molly Dawson
Phone: (503) 414-3234