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Flooding in an East Providence, Rhode Island neighborhood

Emergency Watershed Protection Program - Rhode Island


The Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, a federal emergency recovery program, helps local communities recover after a natural disaster strikes.

EWP Recovery from Forest Fire - Montana

Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program


The EWP 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. 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.

NRCS offers financial and technical assistance for various activities under the EWP Program, 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 certain conservation practices, and
  • purchase of EWP Buyouts.
Iowa Agricultural flood prevention

EWP Project Criteria

-provide protection from flooding or soil erosion;

-reduce threats to life and property;

-restore the hydraulic capacity to the natural environment;

-economically and environmentally defensible.


Recovery Projects

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 must work through a sponsor.


In some situations, landowners can directly apply for assistance through a floodplain easement at the local NRCS office when project funding for floodplain easements becomes available. States will hold a signup period for the impacted communities and the local NRCS offices will publicize that information in the affected communities.

The EWP Program cannot be used:

  • to address the same structural issue or practice 3 times within 10 years;
  • for existing operation and maintenance;
  • to repair, rebuild, or maintain any transportation facilities, utilities, or similar facilities;
  • to restore projects installed by another federal agency;
  • to repair nonstructural management practices;
  • to repair coastal erosions to beaches, dunes, and shorelines, including those along the Great Lakes;
  • if the recovery measures are eligible for the Emergency Conservation Program offered thru the Farm Service Agency (FSA).
Sponsor eligibliity

Locally-Led Solutions

All EWP projects must have a sponsor and demonstrate that they reduce threats to life and property; be economically, environmentally and socially sound; and must be designed to acceptable engineering standards.

NRCS partners with diverse sponsors to complete EWP Program projects. Sponsors include cities, counties, towns, conservation districts, or any federally-recognized Native American tribe or tribal organization.

Sponsors can apply for EWP Program assistance directly to NRCS while public and private landowners can apply for this assistance through a local sponsor.

Check out the EWP Sponsor Resource page for more information.

EWP Fact Sheet Icon
EWP Fact Sheet

EWP in Rhode Island

EWP helps sponsors, landowners, and land operators to implement emergency recovery measures to relieve imminent hazards to life and property created by a natural disaster that causes a sudden watershed impairment. No State or Federal roads are covered under the EWP Program. Impairments may include, but are not limited to:

  • Debris-clogged stream channels
  • Undermined and unstable streambanks
  • Jeopardized water control structures
  • Wind-borne debris removal
  • Damaged sites where protective vegetation has been removed by fires or storms

EWP provides both technical and financial assistance to local sponsoring authorities to preserve life and property. If a site is eligible, NRCS provides up to 75 percent of the costs for the repairs. The other 25 percent must be provided by a local sponsor and can be in the form of cash or in-kind services. The local sponsor can be a city, county, conservation district, or Tribal organization.

Local sponsors must submit a formal request to Mr. R. Phou Vongkhamdy, State Conservationist, for assistance within 60 days of the natural disaster occurrence, or 60 days from the date when access to the site is available. Your request must include a statement that you understand your responsibilities as a sponsor and are willing to pay your portion of the cost-share, along with information pertaining to the natural disaster including the nature, location and scope of the problems and the assistance needed (see Sample Sponsor Letter).

Requests for assistance should be sent to:

R. Phou Vongkhamdy, STC
USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service
60 Quaker Lane, Suite 40
Warwick, RI 02886

If you identify possible projects within your community, please contact our office and submit an official request for assistance under the EWP Program.

Active Projects

Flooding in an East Providence, Rhode Island neighborhood
Flooding in an East Providence, Rhode Island neighborhood.

In July 2022, NRCS approved nearly $9.2 million in federal funds for floodplain restoration from damage by Tropical Storm Ida in East Providence, Middletown, and Narragansett, RI. Federal assistance will safeguard lives and property from imminent hazard of flooding, severe erosion and loss of infrastructure in future storms.

NRCS will cover 100 percent of actual project costs, except for infrastructure; additional funds will be requested as needed.

  • East Providence - $9,645,398
  • Middletown - $1,606,626
  • Narragansett - $991,549

NRCS is partnering with the Rhode Island Association of Conservation Districts (RIACD - EWP Sponsor), which will accept applications from eligible landowners, secure appraisals and acquire land. The RIACD is contacting eligible landowners with information on how to apply for EWP and work with them through the application, appraisal and acquisition process, if they choose to participate. The easement acquisition process began in early July and construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2023 and be completed next summer.

Recently Completed Projects

A culvert being installed in Rhode Island.
Construction of Belfield Drive box culvert to route storm water flow to the Pocasset River.

On August 16, 2021, Officials from NRCS, the Town of Johnston, RIACD, and Rhode Island's congressional delegation cut the ribbon on a completed floodplain restoration project to prevent recurring flooding of the Pocasset River, which had previously affected properties on Belfield Drive in Johnston. To implement the project, NRCS partnered with RIACD, which accepted applications from eligible landowners, secured appraisals and acquired land. Restoration work was designed and constructed by the engineering firm Fuss & O’Neill and included both structural and non-structural practices to bring back floodplain functions. A structure was removed to create a flood water storage area, then a box culvert was installed to allow storm water to flow under the road and back into the Pocasset River. Native vegetation was planted to control soil erosion.

Other Disaster Assistance

Ready to get started?

Contact your local service center to start your application.

Find Your Local Service Center

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit

How to Get Assistance

Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?

Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.

how to get started

To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.

NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.

We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:

  • To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
  • To meet other eligibility certifications.

Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.

Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.

As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:

  • An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
  • A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
  • A farm tract number.

If you don’t have a farm tract number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm tract number if you’re interested in financial assistance.

NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants.

If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.

Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.