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Emergency Watershed Protection Program


Flooding in Clarendon County 2015

In South Carolina, the majority of watershed impairments 
are caused by flooding.

The EWP Program is an emergency recovery program administered by the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that responds to emergencies created by natural disasters causing watershed impairments. The EWP Program is designed to help communities and conserve natural resources by relieving 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.

All projects undertaken, with the exception of the purchase of floodplain easements, must be sponsored by a legal subdivision of the State, such as a city, county, or any federally recognized American Indian tribe or tribal organization.

Flooding in Sumter County 2015
 The reshaping and protection of eroded banks are eligible
for funding under EWP.

EWP Recovery Measures

In South Carolina, floods cause the majority of the watershed impairments. The most common impairments are stream bank instability, channel erosion, and a loss of capacity within the stream channel. Streambank stabilization and obstruction removal are typical measures used to reduce the threat to life and property. Sediment, construction material, vegetation and household debris are the usual causes of stream channel obstruction following a major storm event.

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.

Eligible Project Sponsors

EWP assistance must be through an eligible project sponsor. Any legal subdivision of a state government or a state agency may be an eligible sponsor, including cities, counties, towns, municipal authorities and any Native American Tribe or Tribal organization as defined in section 4 of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. section 450b).  The sponsor will then begin the process by sending a letter of request to the South Carolina NRCS state conservationist that includes the nature, location and scope of the problem. Upon receiving the letter of request, NRCS and the sponsor will conduct a site visit to determine eligibility.

A project sponsor must:

  • Have a legal interest in, or responsibility for, the areas threatened by a watershed impairment. 
  • Be capable of obtaining necessary land rights and required permits.
  • Be capable of performing all required operation and maintenance (O&M) responsibilities.
  • Be capable of administering contracts when part of a locally led agreement.

Cost Share

NRCS may cover up to 75 percent of the restoration cost of emergency measures. The remaining 25 per­cent must come from local sources and can be cash or in-kind services. Funding is subject to Congressional approval.

How Do I Get Assistance?

If you have suffered severe damage that may qualify for the EWP Program, you should contact your local unit of government 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.

EWP Contact in South Carolina

To get answers to your questions about EWP in South Carolina, contact:

Mike Steward
EWP Program Manager
(803) 765-5863