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Emergency Watershed Protection Program

Caribbean Area Emergency Watershed Protection Program

Irma/ Maria EWP Update: Exigency Work - Debris Removal only

Project Status as of August 26, 2019:

  • 322 EWP exigency projects completed (190 completed by NRCS under 100% cost-share; 132 completed by municipalities, DNER, SWCDs, DPW)
  • >210,000 cubic yards of sediment & debris removed from waterways in 53 impacted PR municipalities + all 3 US Virgin Islands
  • 6,938 People at-risk saved
  • 6,584 Properties at-risk saved
  • 322 EWP non-exigency sites with estimated cost amount of $23 million

Results of October-November 2017 Disaster Assessments:

  • 442 Disaster Survey Reports (DSRs)
  • Map of DSR Locations
  • Total Estimated Cost $30 Million:
    • $26 Million Financial Assistance;
    • $4 Million Technical Assistance

The Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, a federal emergency recovery program, helps local communities recover after a natural disaster strikes. The program offers technical and financial assistance to help local communities relieve imminent threats to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms and other natural disasters that impair a watershed.

NRCS Receives Extension of 90/10 Cost Share Assistance for Sponsors of Hurricane Irma & María EWP Projects Until September 22, 2019! (PDF, 49 KB) - April 29, 2019 - NEW!

Want an overview of EWP Implementation in the Caribbean Area after Hurricanes Irma & María? Check out our webinar on YouTube at

The EWP Program Helps Communities and Landowners

The EWP Program allows communities to quickly address serious and long-lasting damages to infrastructure and to the land. The EWP Program authorities offer NRCS the flexibility to act quickly to help local communities cope with adverse impacts resulting from natural disasters. EWP does not require a disaster declaration by federal or state officials for program assistance to begin, but ultimately partial funding must be provided by the state Legislature. If funding becomes available, all funded projects must demonstrate they reduce threats to life and property; be economically, environmentally and socially sound; and must be designed to acceptable engineering standards, if applicable.

EWP Program Projects

NRCS offers financial and technical assistance for various activities under EWP Program – Recovery, including:

  • Remove debris from stream channels, road culverts and bridges;
  • reshape and protect eroded streambanks;
  • correct damaged or destroyed drainage facilities;
  • establish vegetative cover on critically eroding lands;
  • repair levees and structures;
  • repair conservation practices.

In addition to recovery projects, NRCS may purchase EWP floodplain easements instead of trying to recover damaged floodplain lands if it proves to be more cost effective than recovery.

The EWP Program cannot be used:

  • EWP team assesses flood damage to road and houses in Utuado on September 27 2017to address problems that existed prior to the disaster;
  • to improve the level of protection above the existing level at the time of the disaster;
  • for projects’ operation and maintenance;
  • to repair private or public transportation facilities or utilities;
  • to install non-essential restoration work that will not reduce or eliminate adverse impacts from the natural disaster; or
  • to restore projects installed by another federal agency.


Bethlehem pond emergency spillway safely transporting tropical storm flows after EWP completion.

All EWP Program – Recovery projects begins with a local sponsor or legal subdivision of state or tribal government. Eligible sponsors include cities, counties, towns, conservation districts, or any federally-recognized Native American tribe or tribal organization.

Interested public and private landowners can apply for EWP Program – Recovery assistance through one of those sponsors.

Landowner eligibility for EWP-floodplain easements functions differently. Landowners can apply for assistance through the EWP-floodplain easement option directly at the local NRCS office when project funding for floodplain easements become available. States will hold a signup period for the impacted communities and the local NRCS offices will publicize that information in the affected communities.

More Information:


State Conservation Engineer, 787-766-5715 or 787-342-6916