NRCS to Host Emergency Watershed Protection Workshop

An emergency watershed protection project

Edwin Almodóvar, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service – (NRCS) Caribbean Area director, invites Virgin Islands government agencies and NGOs to participate in an Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Workshop with NRCS engineers, contracting officers and program specialists. Disaster preparation is the key to resiliency.

The workshop will be held from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Thursday, May 16, at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Training Room in Nisky Center, St. Thomas. Interested persons not able to travel to St. Thomas for the workshop can participate via toll-free conference call at 1-888-844-9904 (Passcode: 4498730#).

Participants will learn how to apply for and administer Emergency Watershed Protection projects to prepare for disaster, mitigate damage, prevent loss of life and recover as quickly as possible.

“Proper preparation before any emergency is the best tool. Understanding how the EWP program can help a community should be part of the emergency management plan for all government agencies in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said Almodóvar.

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NRCS works with land stewards, landowners and local government agencies to assess and implement conservation practices in priority areas. Partners include municipalities, conservation districts and territorial government agencies. NRCS also works with FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers to provide technical support to effectively address local needs and works with potential sponsors to conduct outreach and discuss each individual municipality’s priorities.

In the months after hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017, over 1,000 watershed sites were assessed by NRCS teams. Of those, 439 sites were selected as exigency projects (in need of immediate clearing) and two sites as emergency projects. NRCS-completed damage survey reports (DSRs) for exigency work to remove debris from these sites estimated the cost to be over $30 million.

NRCS subsequently identified 201 sites needing non-exigency work for debris removal, erosion control, stream bank stabilization and other conservation practices to restore stream hydrologic conditions.

To date, 20 exigency projects have been completed in the USVI and eight are underway. Over 5,800 cubic yards of sediment and debris have been removed from waterways, saving 424 lives at risk and 604 properties at risk.

For more information about the workshop, contact Coral Santiago at 787-766-5553 or [email protected].

For more information about NRCS assistance with hurricane recovery efforts in the Caribbean Area, visit www.PR.NRCS.usda.gov.

Persons with disabilities who require special accommodations to attend or participate in this workshop should contact Michelle Catoni at 787-896-3565m ext. 105 or [email protected] or the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 by May 14.

EWP project sites on St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John before exigency work (L to R)
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