Emergency Watershed Protection Program

December 19, 2018


The purpose of the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program is to respond to emergencies created by natural disasters. The EWP Program is designed to help people and conserve natural resources by relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, drought, windstorms, and other natural occurrences. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the EWP Program. There are two components to the EWP Program: the EWP-Recovery through which NRCS works with a sponsor to implement emergency measures to address watershed impairments, and the EWP-Floodplain Easement (FPE) through which NRCS purchases directly from landowners an easement on floodplain lands to restore and protect floodplain functions and values.

Program Requirements:

The EWP Program is a recovery effort program aimed at relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms, and other natural occurrences. Assistance is only available in areas that have been declared natural disasters areas by the President or by the Secretary of Agriculture or designee.

Through the recovery component, public and private landowners are eligible for recovery assistance, but must be represented by a project sponsor that must be a legal subdivision of the State, such as a city, county, township or conservation district, and Native American Tribes or Tribal governments. NRCS may pay up to 75 percent of the construction cost of emergency measures. The remaining 25 percent must come from local sources and can be in the form of cash or in-kind services.

Through the FPE component, owners of privately-owned lands or lands owned by local and state governments may be eligible for participation in EWP-FPE. Under FPE, NRCS purchases an easement and pays up to 100 percent of the costs to restore the floodplain functions and values. To be eligible, lands must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Lands that have been damaged by flooding at least once within the previous calendar year or have been subject to flood damage at least twice within the previous 10 years
  • Other lands within the floodplain are eligible, provided the lands would contribute to the restoration of the flood storage and flow, provide for control of erosion, or that would improve the practical management of the floodplain easement
  • Lands that would be inundated or adversely impacted as a result of a dam breach

Application Details

EWP - Recovery: If your land has suffered severe damage that may qualify for the EWP Program, you should contact your local sponsoring authorities and request assistance. Additional information regarding EWP-Recovery eligibility and availability, please visit the EWP-Recovery page.

EWP - FPE: Landowners interested in enrolling their land in a permanent EWP-FPE easement should contact their local USDA Service Center for more information. EWP-FPE is not available in all areas at all times and is most commonly available to landowners in areas recently impacted by a natural disaster such as widespread flooding.

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