Cover photo for Emergency Watershed Protection Program

Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP)

Natural Resources Conservation Service

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.

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 government officials for program assistance to begin. The NRCS State Conservationist can declare a local watershed emergency and initiate EWP program assistance in cooperation with an eligible sponsor (see the "Eligibility" section below). NRCS will not provide funding for activities undertaken by a sponsor prior to the signing of a cooperative agreement between NRCS and the sponsor.

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 Assistance

The EWP Program has two distinct options for assisting local communities and individual landowners — EWP Program-Recovery and EWPP-Floodplain Easements. Click on this comparison page to see the difference between these two options.   

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:

  • to 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.


All EWP Program – Recovery projects begin 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.

Application Instructions

To learn more about NRCS’s EWP Program, please contact your state's EWP Program Manager.

Updated March 21, 2024

Image Credit: Leo Rivas

This information was gathered from public sources. Ambrook is not responsible for or able to affect the results of any financial programs listed, nor are they responsible for any incorrect information that is listed or is on the hyperlinked external sites. All information is subject to change.

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