Water: Fish & Shellfish
Recreational Fishery Resources Accomplishments for 1996
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency1, 2
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with our partners, accomplished a great deal to support aquatic habitat and the recreational fisheries that depend upon this habitat. Virtually all of EPA's activities to support recreational fisheries and aquatic habitat are done in partnership with our state, tribal and local government; industry; and citizen partners. The accomplishments highlighted here are grouped into the same categories that EPA outlined in its Recreational Fishery Resources Conservation Plan (December, 1996). EPA thanks our partners for all their collaborative efforts to support aquatic habitat and aquatic resources education.
Develop and promote the use of environmental goals and indicators
EPA, in collaboration with its partners in the Intergovernmental Task Force on Monitoring Water Quality (ITFM), completed The Strategy for Improving Water Quality Monitoring in the U.S. This is important for recreational fisheries because it recommends using a set of 18 environmental indicators that measure progress toward national water quality goals and objectives rather than relying on dollars spent, permits written, or other "bean counting" measures that do not depict the state of the environment.
EPA's Region 7 (Kansas City) collaborative Regional Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (R-EMAP) project measured the statewide health of fisheries in Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska using several environmental indicators. Approximately 300 stream sites were statistically sampled to identify the current fish community structure (biological integrity) and to judge the health of the fisheries. The report with the findings will be released in 1997, following a workshop designed to get stakeholder input to preliminary findings
Encourage implementation of watershed and community based approaches
Watershed and community based approaches to aquatic resources protection will ultimately benefit recreational fisheries because these approaches bring multiple stakeholders, including recreational fisheries interests, affected by government decisions to the table to participate in the decision making process. This more holistic framework allows for priorities to be more easily established for an area and resources directed to these priorities. A watershed approach can also make more efficient use of existing resources by reducing duplication of effort thereby freeing up resources for other efforts, like receational fisheries concerns. It can also reduce conflict among stakeholders, and encourage collaboration.
EPA's Middle Platte River Subbasin project in Nebraska initiated a National Science Advisory Board reviewed eco-risk assessment case study during 1996 which will provide better tools to judge factors involved in fishery management. EPA's Omaha, Nebraska project began identifying environmental concerns and solutions for local situations like the Missouri River side chute development, a prime source of fishery habitat.
EPA contributed $60,000 toward technical assistance to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the City of Worcester, and the Massachusetts Watershed Coalition for developing and implementing a watershed management plan for the Blackstone Headwaters. This plan will serve as a model for integrating wet weather point source controls into a watershed management approach.
EPA promoted the statewide watershed approach through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Basic Permit Writers' course, the Statewide Watershed Management course, and the Executive Watershed course. In 1996 the NPDES course was held for States in EPA's Regions 6 and 7, and in the State of Alaska.
EPA allocated $125,000 to provide a facilitator to eight states (AK, AZ, CA, FL, GA, KY, MT, UT) to assist them in developing a statewide watershed framework. This assistance has been an excellent leveraging tool to move states toward a watershed management approach. Additionally, EPA awarded $200,000 in Clean Water Act 104(b)(3)grant dollars to support statewide watershed management facilitation efforts.
Set criteria and standards to protect aquatic life
EPA's Region 9 (San Francisco) established new water quality standards for the State of Arizona. This includes implementation of a monitoring program for mercury levels in fish and designates the fish consumption use for 14 water bodies where that use did not previously have the protections afforded by that designation.
EPA published the first of a series of documents intended to provide guidance to our state and tribal partners in the development of biological criteria for waterbodies (EPA#: 822-B-96- 001). The development of biological criteria is an important tool for states and tribes to protect fisheries because it establishes a minimum acceptable floor for biological conditions for a waterbody. In an effort to better promote biological criteria development, EPA's Region III (Philadelphia) initiated in 1996 a pilot center for technical assistance. EPA staff with specialized training and experience in taxonomy, defining reference conditions, designing survey plans, and analyzing data will offer assistance to help our state and tribal partners with environmental problems and biological criteria development.
Prevent pollution During FY96 the Clean Water Act State Revolving Fund (SRF) program made 994 loans nationally totaling $2.75 billion The SRF provides funds for a range of high-priority water-quality projects that will help prevent pollution from entering our nation's waterbodies. These funds are important to recreational fisheries because they are used to pay for both structural controls to prevent point sources of pollution, for example wastewater treatment plants, and nonstructural controls to prevent nonpoint source pollution, for example best management practices.
The absence of adequate waste water infrastructure in colonias contributes to the severe water quality and associated aquatic habitat degradation in the Rio Grande and other watersheds along our southern border. In FY96, EPA invested a total of $250 million in Texas and $20 million in New Mexico colonias, and leveraged an equal amount investment from State funds. Through FY 96, 46 projects in Texas and New Mexico are under construction. Waste water planning and design is proceeding on additional projects with an estimated construction cost of $300 million.
EPA awarded $1.8 million to 48 States to help small waste water systems that treat 5 million gallons per day or less improve operations and maintenance and return to compliance with their permits. With the State and other Federal funds leveraged by this program, some 800 small systems received some kind of operation and maintenance assistance. This assistance is important to protecting our nation's waterways, and the recreational fisheries populations dependent upon them, from the impacts associated with wastewater.
EPA, in conjunction with the Department of Transportation, has developed proposed regulations that would establish waste handling practices for vessels and waste transfer stations for the hauling and handling of municipal and commercial wastes. This rule would assure that wastes will not be deposited into coastal waters during loading, off loading, and transport. The proposal was signed by the Administrator on August 19, 1996. These proposed regulations are important to preventing coastal pollution that could impair coastal fisheries populations.
EPA published the final Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Pesticide Chemicals Formulating, Packaging and Repackaging Industry (61 FR 57518). This final rule limits the discharge of pollutants into navigable waters of the United States and into publicly owned treatment works by existing and new facilities that formulate package and repackage pesticide products. Limiting the discharge of these pollutants ultimately will benefit the health of recreational fisheries.
The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes a national goal of "fishable, swimmable" waters. There are still waters in the nation that do not meet this goal, despite the fact that many pollution sources have implemented nationally required levels of pollution control technology. The CWA's Section 303(d) addresses these remaining waters by requiring states to identify these waters and develop Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for them, with oversight from EPA. A TMDL allocates pollution control responsibilities among pollution sources in a watershed and is the basis for taking the actions needed to restore a waterbody. During 1996, EPA developed a strategy to implement the TMDL program. It explains EPA's vision, priorities, and the steps the Agency will take to help states meet TMDL program requirements.
Restore/protect aquatic resources habitat
Nonpoint Source Control Implementation Projects
During FY96 EPA provided $100 million in grants to our state and tribal partners for nonpoint source pollution control (Clean Water Act Section 319 grants). Nonpoint source pollution is the primary cause for impairment in assessed waterbodies and providing grants to control it is an important accomplishment for recreational fisheries health. EPA's Region 7, which encompasses Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri deserves special recognition for its support of projects that monitor, protect and restore aquatic habitat, including recreational fisheries habitat.
As in previous years, EPA's Region VII Section 319 nonpoint source control implementation projects selection process for FY96 gave a higher priority to projects on states' priority watershed lists. These lists used an adversely impacted fishery as part of the criteria for placement on the list. As a consequence, seven projects involving fisheries were successfully competed and awarded over $1.2 million in Section 319 grant funds.
In general, Iowa's Section 319 Resource Protection /Restoration activities provided for low cost resource protection, enhancement, or restoration activities on coldwater streams, lakes, and wetlands. Activities included stream and corridor habitat enhancement, streambank stabilization, wetland development or restoration, sediment/nutrient dikes to protect lakes, lake shore erosion practices, in-lake habitat improvements, and construction of fish attracters.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources and EPA Region VII agreed to fund two projects with FY96 Section 319 funds which have direct impact and emphasis on recreational fisheries. The Trout Run Water Quality Project ($220,629), a new three year addition to a project initiated in 1991, will include additional critical areas contributing sediment, agricultural chemicals, and manure for treatment by best management practices. Local interest is high as noted by the $353,972 funding available from other sources. The Hickory Creek Water Quality Project ($139,350), will demonstrate intensive rotational grazing and forestry management to slow the trend for more row crops on fragile erodible land in a put-and-take trout stream located in the Northeast Iowa Demonstration Project area. It also has high local interest with $136,750 from other funding sources.
EPA provided the Hillsdale Lake, Kansas project special attention to improve the fisheries and also provided almost $66,000 in Clean Water Act Section 319 funding in FY96 for nonpoint source controls.
The Kirkman's Cove Lake project, Nebraska, funded in part through an EPA Section 319 grant, is a 5 year effort to return the lake to full attainment of its warmwater aquatic life use class via watershed management techniques, is in its third year of operation. One goal is to restore the in-lake fishery habitat by promoting aquatic vegetation growth, in addition to other watershed improvements. Results to date have been encouraging.
For the first time in more than 25 years Navesink River, New Jersey waters were reopened for unrestricted clamming in the Winter of 1996. This was a result of a cooperative inter-agency program that successfully reduced non-point source pollution and significantly improved water quality. A total of nearly 4,800 acres were upgraded. This accomplishment was achieved by a cooperative partnership among local landowners (largely agricultural), NRCS, New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection, and EPA's Region II (New York) through a Section 319 grant.
As a result of reduced sedimentation from nonpoint source control efforts prior to 1996, the native trout were being found, in 1996, in tributary streams related to the Mill Road Section of the Cherokee Tribal Trust Lands Critical Area Treatment project. This project stabilized severely eroding access roads on tribal trust lands was completed in Spring of 1995 with assistance from an EPA Section 319 grant ($54,467) and in cooperation of the Southwestern North Carolina RC&D Council, Inc ($306,133) and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians ($164,860). In this phase, 9.9 acres were stabilized and estimates show soil loss which was in excess of 150 tons per year from this area was reduced to less than 6 tons per year.
The Spring Branch Creek watershed project, Iowa, is in its second year of reducing sediment and nutrient movement through technical assistance, structural controls, best management practices including manure management, reduced tillage, streambank protection and many others. This project, funded by an EPA Section 319 grant initiated in FY95, focuses on a watershed that not only serves as a put-and-take trout stream but also is the water supply to the state fish hatchery. An information and educational campaign promoting environmentally sound farming practices is also underway.
The Upper Big Mill Creek watershed project, located in eastern Iowa, is another project that received an EPA Section 319 grant and is similar to the above Spring Branch Creek project. The improvements in water quality and habitat resulting from structural and best management practices is credited with an increase in natural brown trout recruitment from approximately 140 fish per mile to over 500 fish per mile.
The Spring, 1997 issue of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources magazine Missouri Resources highlighted the "reservoir of cooperation" and improved fishing and recreational activities in the Mark Twain Lake, recipient of some earlier EPA Section 319 funds for the Mark Twain Water Quality Initiative. This project has received funding from a wide range of partners, including EPA, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, University Extension, Farm Services Agency, agrichemical industries and landowners.
EPA's Clean Water Act Section 319 National Monitoring Program
EPA is helping communities and citizens protect their local aquatic resources, including recreational fisheries, by providing information on the effectiveness of land management tools and techniques for solving nonpoint source pollution problems through the Clean Water Act Section 319 National Monitoring Program. EPA leverages support from our partners in aquatic resources protection to provide the needed land treatment.
The Sny Magill Creek, Iowa watershed is one of the top recreational trout streams in the State, but excess sediment deposition has impaired uses. EPA (Region VII) funded CWA Section 319 Special Project improvements, primarily terraces, are complete. Farmer participation was 80-85%. Water Year 1996 represented the fifth year of Section 319 National Monitoring Program water quality monitoring. Annual fisheries data and an annual habitat assessment were conducted along with macro invertebrate collection every two months. Total suspended sediment loads are declining from 1993 levels. A 1994 survey of several trout streams in northeast Iowa reported newly identified natural trout reproduction, including natural brook trout reproduction in North Cedar Creek, a tributary to Sny Magill Creek and site of one of the land treatment programs.
High summer water temperatures, sedimentation and scouring of vegetation during storm events impairs trout productivity in Elm Creek, Nebraska. EPA funded Section 319 monitoring, which began in 1992, was scheduled to end in 1996, but additional funds were secured to continue post BMP-monitoring until 1999. Preliminary results infer that while the majority of non-structural BMPs are designed to control runoff from one-in-ten year storm events, even a slightly larger storm event contributes higher flows, which degrades water and aquatic habitat quality, making it difficult to detect improvements. The biological indices used to assess aquatic communities are being refined so more definitive conclusions can be drawn from the collected data.
Wetlands provide significant recreational values to society including sport hunting and fishing. Expenditures in a local economy from recreation can exceed $100 per wetland acre per year for purchases such as gasoline, bait, shotgun shells, food, gear and hunting leases. In FY96, EPA's Wetlands Division administered a $15 million wetlands grant program to assist states, tribes and local government entities develop new or refine existing wetland programs. EPA established priority projects for this grant program. These priority project areas enhance state, tribal and local efforts to better protect and manage wetlands resources that would benefit recreational fishery resources. Typically, funding requests are more than double the available funding.
EPA, in 1996, protected valuable aquatic resources including wetlands through the administration of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Section 404, which is jointly administered by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, regulates discharges of dredged and fill material to wetlands and other waters of the United States. In developing revisions to the Section 404 Nationwide Permit program, EPA worked with the Corps to ensure that the reissued nationwide permits would result in only minimal impacts on the aquatic environment, including fisheries habitat. As a result, those nationwide permits which authorize fish and wildlife harvesting activities and minor dredging were modified to increase protection of sites that support submerged aquatic vegetation.
In addition, during the Section 404 individual permit review process, the EPA Regions took steps to ensure an adequate protection of aquatic resources. For example, as part of the review of a proposal for a drinking supply reservoir near Atlanta, Georgia, EPA Region IV expressed concerns about impacts on downstream natural fish communities. In consultation with the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, EPA identified the important stream functions needed to preserve the downstream fishery. EPA then worked with the Corps and the applicant to identify project modifications necessary to maintain these functions, including a variable depth penstock and additional aeration features, plus upstream monitoring and dam release operation procedures. These measures will ensure that the temperature, dissolved oxygen, and discharge volume remain within a narrow range that approximates the original stream conditions and preserves the warm water fishery.
When John Hocking purchased land in Mt. Vernon, Washington, he inherited a challenge: an existing Clean Water Act violation involving illegally filled wetlands near a creek supporting coho salmon. EPA's Region 10 (Seattle), Mr. Hocking, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the City of Mt. Vernon together sought creative solutions. Ultimately, Hocking was able to proceed with a profitable development, and benefit the stream and wetlands environment. The stream was relocated from a roadside ditch to a newly constructed channel, making it better than before. After fill material was removed, wetlands were restored and expanded, and a pond was created for coho salmon habitat. A large portion of the site was dedicated to the city as a public park which will include pedestrian access and a bike path. A great success!
Clean Lakes Program
While not specifically designed to improve recreational fisheries, the EPA Clean Lakes Program projects sometimes directly and almost always indirectly aids fisheries. EPA's Region VII had six phase II Clean Lakes projects active during FY96. They are Lake Aquabi, Five Island Lake, and the Upper and Lower Pine Lakes in Iowa, Ford County Lake in Kansas, and Wehrspann Lake and Willow Creek Lake/Maskenthine Lake in Nebraska. Some of these also had Section 319 funds working in the watershed to provide a coordinated and integrated impact on the total system. The grant funded activities will, in the long term, produce lasting benefits to the fisheries in these lakes.
EPA published in 1996, a tool for managers to protect natural wetlands from the devastating effects of uncontrolled runoff, Protecting Natural Wetlands, A Guide to Stormwater Best Management Practices. This guidebook provides useful applications of best management practices to specifically target sensitive wetland habitats. The purpose of the document is to describe potential benefits, limitations, and appropriate applications of best management practices that can be implemented to protect the myriad functions of natural wetlands from the impacts of urban stormwater discharges and other diffuse sources of run off which ultimately effects the quality of fishery habitats in streams, rivers, lakes, and estuaries.
Oceans and Coastal Program
EPA approved the final plan for long-term cleanup of Louisiana's Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary. The four million acre estuary contains more coastal wetlands than any other estuary in the United States. However, the estuary is disappearing quickly -- a half-acre of coastal land turns to open water every 15 minutes. Barataria-Terrebonne was placed in the National Estuary Program in l990. There are now 28 estuaries in the National Estuary Program and 15 comprehensive management plans have been developed and approved. The comprehensive plan contains 51 individual action plans designed to address complex scientific and technical issues including: hydrological modification (changes in the natural flow of water), as well as reduced sediment flows; habitat loss; changes in living resources; eutrophication (oxygen loss as a result of pollution further leading to plant overgrowth in water); and pathogen and toxic substance contamination. The program also focuses on preserving economic growth and coordinating future restoration programs. It is a consensus of representatives from the private and public sectors, including government, industry, business and conservation groups. The Barataria-Terrebonne comprehensive plan is the first of any EPA project to receive national recognition as "outstanding and of exceptionally high merit" by the American Planning Association, a national association representing professional planners from many walks of life.
EPA's Science Advisory Board is currently revising final recommendations to EPA's Office of Water to assist in formulating guiding principles to apply to coastal impoundments. These guiding principles have specifically addressed the impacts of coastal impoundments on fishery habitats and the use of best management practices to minimize the effects to coastal fisheries.
Establish monitoring protocols and report on nation's water quality
EPA completed in FY96 the National Water Quality Inventory Report to Congress: 1994 (EPA841-R-95-005). This report is the primary vehicle for educating the public and Congress on general water quality conditions in the United States and the degree to which assessed waters meet aquatic life designated uses as well as other designated uses like recreation. This is one of the few national-level water quality reports. Its overall conclusions about sources and causes of pollution are used in determining where to focus national water pollution control efforts and resources. It is important to the health of recreational fisheries habitat because it brings to the attention of the public what are the major pollutants and sources of these pollutants. The report for 1996 water quality conditions will be completed in FY98.
EPA released its Draft Revised Rapid Bioassessment Protocols For Use in Streams and Rivers: Periphyton, Benthic Macroinvertebrates, and Fish. The revision is based on refinements in the methods that have occurred from testing and implementation of the approach over the past 7 years. The protocols introduce improved techniques for habitat assessment, including fisheries habitat.
EPA, in collaboration with other federal agencies, states, tribes, and academics, are developing wetland biological indicators and criteria. EPA held a meeting in Boulder, Colorado, in September 1996 to explore issues and opportunities related to wetland biological monitoring and assessment. A working group has been formed to work through the many areas of development needed including, metric selection, reference wetlands, classification, and data management. The monitoring data and analysis performed to date has focused on depressional and riparian wetlands. While all the work focuses on healthy aquatic communities, the riparian work will have particular application to recreational fisheries.
Conduct research that supports recreational fisheries
EPA released Clean Marinas-Clear Value. This economic research focuses on the economic benefits realized by marina managers who have implemented environmental management measures at their marinas. Because marinas are located right at the water's edge, there is a strong potential for marina waters to contaminate coastal waters and related aquatic habitat with pollutants generated from the various activities that occur at marinas, such as boat cleaning, fueling operations, and marine head discharge, or from the entry of storm water runoff from parking lots and hull maintenance and repair areas into marina basins. Because EPA's analyses demonstrates the economic achievability and benefits of environmental management measures for marinas and recreational boating, it has potential to encourage marina managers to adopt these practices that are beneficial for coastal aquatic habitat, including recreational fisheries habitat.
EPA's Region 10 Superfund Program, in cooperation with an interagency workgroup, completed research that evaluated various approaches for deriving a clean-up level for tributyltin (TBT) in marine sediments. This effort was initiated to assist EPA in recommending a cleanup approach for TBT-contaminated sediments at Superfund sites in Puget Sound, Washington. Establishing a TBT sediment clean up level benefits marine recreational fisheries habitat. Results are detailed in a final report, Recommendations for Screening Values for Tributyltin in Sediments at Superfund Sites in Puget Sound, Washington. Additional information and copies of the EPA report are available from Karen Keeley, Superfund Site Manager, EPA Region 10 Office of Environmental Cleanup, ECL-111, Seattle, WA, 98101. (e-mail:email@example.com).
Develop data systems and related tools
EPA released the 1995 update for The National Listing of Fish and Wildlife Consumption Advisories. This database includes all available information describing state-issued fish and wildlife consumption advisories for the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. Territories. The database may also be used by anglers to make informed decisions about the waterbodies in which they choose to fish; the frequency with which they fish the water-bodies; the species, size, and number of fish they collect; and the frequency with which they consume fish from specific waterbodies. The database is PC-based, available to the public free of charge on 3.5-inch diskettes. The database can also be downloaded from http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/fishadvice/. For copies of the diskettes (Refer to: EPA-823-C-96-011), contact:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
National Center for Environmental Publications and Information
11029 Kenwood Road
Cincinnati, Ohio 45242
EPA released Surf Your Watershed (Surf) (http://www.epa.gov/surf/) an important internet watershed education tool for anglers, and citizens in general. Surf allows the user to "click" on a state map to zoom into the watershed where they live or fish and obtain information on environmental quality indicators, environmental protection efforts, and environmental uses and impacts. It also encourages the growth of watershed protection partnerships because the user can learn about local groups and organizations actively working to protect their watershed. They can also find out about ongoing efforts both upstream and downstream of their watershed. Additionally, users can also access water quality data for the watershed. Surf also has a "Speak Out" section that enables anglers and other citizens to exchange informaton and ideas on watershed-based environmental protection.
EPA released a PC-based tool called BASINS. The acronym stands for Better Assessment Science Integrating point and Nonpoint Sources. BASINS has been designed and developed specifically to support development of total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) as mandated by Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act. TMDL calculations identify the maximum amount of pollutants that can be assimilated by a watershed without impairing the designated use (e.g., aquatic habitat) of the waterbody. The development of BASINS will be important for understanding the amount of pollution a waterbody can assimilate and still support recreational fisheries and other aquatic populations. BASINS combines a Geographic Information System (GIS) with environmental fate and transport models to provide analytical capabilities that exceed any we have had before. The BASINS software provides the user with a multitude of data sources to facilitate the prediction of point and nonpoint source impacts on water quality. One especially valuable feature of this system is its flexibility to incorporate local data to supplement or replace the nationally available data layers.
Educate and involve public in aquatic ecosystem protection
EPA was a principal sponsor of Watershed 96. in which there were more than 1,800 enthusiastic participants. Conservationists, land owners, farmers, scientists, all levels of government, bipartisan political leaders, and industry - came together for over three days to share watershed success stories, discuss challenges, and learn from each other. The event was cosponsored by Water Environment Federation and 14 federal agencies with over 100 cooperating organizations. There were more than 150 satellite downlink sites nationwide.
EPA's Region 10, as part of the Green/Duwamish Watershed Alliance, helped spearhead a novel community event, the Festival of the Rivers. At least 80 businesses, agencies, community groups, and schools, teamed up to make the event a success. More than 2,000 people celebrated the unique resources of Washington's Green-Duwamish Watershed with lots of on-the-ground work to benefit the environment and aquatic habitat. More than 3,500 trees and shrubs, and 1000 willow and dogwood stakes were planted along the Green and Duwamish Rivers. Blackberries, reed canary grass and other weeds were cleared from riverbanks. Two ten-ton trucks of garbage were removed from Flaming Geyser State Park. About 100 tons of materials were also collected through special recycling events. This on the ground work is important to restoring recreational fisheries habitat in the watershed.
EPA was the principal sponsor for the 16th Annual International Symposium on Lake, Reservoir, and Watershed Management where more than 800 people from all walks of life attended. This symposium serves to educate the public on aquatic resources management, including recreational fisheries.
EPA was a principal sponsor of the 5th National Volunteer Monitoring Conference in which more than 250 people attended and learned about how to establish aquatic resources volunteer monitoring networks to gather sound data on the quality of the nation's aquatic resources.
EPA sponsored an "Adopt a Watershed" Festival to educate federal employees about aquatic resources protection. About 25 watershed alliances had booths for federal employees to sign up to volunteer to do aquatic resources restoration work in their local watershed.
Additionally EPA had aquatic resources education booths at the BASS Masters Expo in Atlanta, the Chicago Boat Show, the American Fisheries Society National Meeting, Western Summit on Tourism and Public Lands, and the Water Environment Federation Conference.
EPA, in partnership with National Marine Manufacturers Association, produced "Waterwatch - What Boaters Can Do to Be Environmentally Friendly." All new boat owners receive this brochure.
EPA developed Nonpoint Source Pointers a series of 11 fact sheets designed to help the public increase their understanding and management of nonpoint source pollution affecting aquatic resources, including recreational fish habitat in their community.
EPA published three issues of Nonpoint Source News-Notes (14,000 circulation) which is an occasional bulletin dealing with the condition of the water-related environment, the control of nonpoint sources of water pollution, and the ecosystem-driven management and restoration of watersheds.
EPA published two issues of Watershed Events (5000 circulation) which updates interested parties on the development and use of watershed protection approaches for protecting and restoring aquatic resources, including recreational fisheries. These approaches consider the primary threats to ecosystem health within the watershed, involve those people most concerned or able to take actions to solve those problems, and then take corrective actions in an integrated and holistic manner.
EPA's Wetlands Division administered a Wetlands Hotline (800-832-7828) which responded to public inquiries about wetland resources functions and values and about programs for the protection/management/restoration of wetland resources. In FY96, the Hotline responded to more than 8,000 inquiries.
EPA has targeted the water quality and associated aquatic habitat problems related to waste water in small communities for special technical assistance and support through the National Small Flows Clearinghouse (NSFCH) and the National Environmental Training Center for Small Communities (NETCSC). The NSFCH publishes three periodicals with a combined circulation of 73,000, responded to 12,000 telephone calls in FY 96, shipped 35,000 publications in response to some 3,000 requests, and operates a bulletin board with almost 20,000 users. The NETCSC publishes two periodicals with a circulation of more than 7,000, has developed cooperative partnerships with 24 States, Regions and other organizations, has responded to more than 400 requests for technical assistance, and delivered 12 training events at which 345 people were trained in various aspects of wastewater treatment.
EPA's Wetlands Grant Program provided financial assistance to help the states of Michigan and Texas develop wetland landowner's guides (Living with Michigan's Wetlands" A Landowner's GuideWetlands Assistance: Guide for Landowners [Texas]). These guides explain the valuable functions and values of wetlands, explain the various programs for wetlands protection/management/restoration, and detail options available for landowners interested in protecting wetlands on their lands
Develop new opportunities for partnerships, improve existing ones, and build capacity in states, tribes, and local governments
During FY96, EPA's Region VII signed an agreement which formed the Kaw Valley Heritage Alliance with the Kansas Land Trust, the Kansas Rural Center, and the National Park Service. As founding partners, together with many other partners and committee members, the Alliance expects to preserve the natural and cultural heritage and responsible use of the 170 mile stretch of the Kaw (Kansas) River, from its head, the confluence of the Republican and Smoky Hill Rivers, to its mouth at the Missouri River. This reach, with its tributaries and associated riparian vegetation, provide some of the most important habitat in Kansas.
EPA participated in the Conservation Partnership Council, a voluntary group of approximately 40 public and private organizations interested in and committed to working together to establish more effective partnerships for watershed protection. The collaboration among these organizations will ultimately support recreational fisheries by improving coordination and reducing duplication in their effort to protect and restore watersheds.
In 1996 EPA participated in California's CALFED Bay-Delta program to help restore the Bay/Delta ecosystem so that it can again support productive recreational fisheries. EPA has been integrally involved in increasing river flows and reducing water withdrawls during the late winter and spring when eggs, larvae and juveniles are dependent on good habitat conditions.
EPA continued to be an active partner in both the Interagency Task Force for Shellfish Growing Waters (ITFSGW) and the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC). These partnerships promoted improved shellfish sanitation as well as improved monitoring efforts in shellfish growing waters.
EPA is developing new partnerships to improve its Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program (described on page 3-4). In 1996, EPA formed a Federal Advisory Committee, comprised of individuals from a wide range of interests and locales, to provide advice to EPA on identifying water quality limited water bodies, establishing TMDLs for them, and developing appropriate watershed protection programs for these impaired waters in accordance with CWA Section 303(d). The Committee will operate under the auspices of the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT). Strengthening the TMDL program is critical to the success of the nation's water quality protection and improvement efforts.
Urban wet weather discharges, including storm water discharges, combined sewer overflows (CSOs), and sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs), are a leading cause of water quality impairment in our nation's waters. In 1995, EPA established the Urban Wet Weather Flows Federal Advisory Committee. During 1996, EPA continued to build this partnership with a wide range of stakeholders to get recommendations from the Committee on how to address the water quality and aquatic resources habitat impacts related to urban wet weather discharges and the cross-cutting issues associated with these discharges. The Committee's recommendations will help EPA in developing wet weather discharge programs that further the water quality objectives of the Clean Water Act and are flexible and cost-effective
Monitoring success of plan implementation through agency outputs
- Percent of surveyed stream miles that are restored or improved as fish habitat or restored to established water quality standards,
Currently EPA can not measure the nation's progress using the above measure because the states and tribes do not yet report to EPA on whether individual waterbodies meet standards. They do report the percent of assessed water bodies meeting designated uses, like aquatic life. EPA, however, is working with our state and tribal partners to be able to geo-reference individual waterbodies to potentially track which assessed waterbodies are restored to established designated uses, like aquatic life.
In 1994, 69% of the assessed rivers and streams, 68% of the assessed lakes and reservoirs, and 70% of assessed estuaries can support healthy aquatic life.
The number of waterbodies under fish consumption advisory rose by 209 in 1995 to a total of 1,740, representing a 14% increase over 1994. The number of waterbodies under fish consumption advisory represents 15% of the Nation's total lake acres and 4% of the Nation's total river miles. In addition, 100% of the Great Lakes waters and their connecting waters, and a large portion of the Nation's coastal waters are also under advisory. The number of advisories increased for five contaminants (mercury, PCBs, chlordane, dioxins, and DDT).
- Number of individuals trained or events sponsored in aquatic resource conservation
EPA sponsored or participated in at least 9 events relating to aquatic resource conservation in which more than 4,850 people participated (see section entitled "Educate and involve public in aquatic ecosystem protection"). Additionally, EPA distributed more than 134,000 water quality and aquatic resource protection related publications to the public, and responded to more than 20,000 telephone inquiries.
- Narrative description of the level of success that EPA has in working with its recreational fisheries partners to meet the Plan's goals and carry out the implementation strategies
EPA has a long history of collaborating with a variety of partners in aquatic resources protection and education, including state, local, and tribal governments, watershed alliances, volunteer monitoring groups, industry, POTW operators, and conservation groups. In general, EPA has not had as extensive experience in partnering and collaborating with recreational fisheries interest groups. This may be a result of recreational fisheries interest groups being unfamiliar with how EPA's activities relate to fisheries protection. This presents a great opportunity for both EPA and recreational fisheries alliances to learn more about each others priorities and explore areas of mutual collaboration. We encourage these groups to contact us so that we can explore these opportunities and act on them.
Mail Code 4501T
Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
1 EPA's agency outputs, as discussed in EPA's Recreational Fishery Resources Conservation Plan: Agency Action Plan, are highlighted on pages 13-14.
2 As requested by the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council, EPA has outlined its short, mid-term, and long term objectives and goals and budget constraints in Appendix 1 on pages 15-16.
The Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council (SFBPC), in a letter dated January 31, 1997, requested that EPA outline, in its 1996 Accomplishments Report, its prioritized objectives with timetables, expected deliverables, and cost estimates for projected needs. Appendix 1 highlights these items that the SFBPC specifically requested.
Short, Mid and Long Term Objectives
Short Term -One Year Objectives:
EPA and its many public and private partners are using our joint information to characterize the conditions of the 2150 watersheds in the continental United States through the National Watershed Assessment Program (NWAP). Initial products characterizing the condition of each watershed and pointing to sources of additional information will be ready in 1997.
The objectives of this project are fivefold:
- To use the rich array of information from multiple sources to paint a portrait of our 2150 watersheds.
- To stimulate and empower citizens to know about and work to preserve their watershed.
- To identify the watersheds at particular risk.
- To serve as the baseline in a dialogue between the many public and private partners who can help assess and maintain or improve the condition of the watershed.
- To measure progress towards our goal that all watersheds will be healthy and productive places
In 1997 EPA will work with states, tribes, and local governments, the Urban Wet-Weather Advisory Committee, and other interested parties to assure the development of an approach to control of stormwater in municipalities with populations of under 100,000 and at commercial sites and publication of a proposed regulation for the Phase II of the stormwater program. Additionally, EPA will continue issuance of permits implementing the Combined Sewer Overflow Control Policy with the goal of implementing the nine minimum controls called for in the Policy in 1997.
EPA will ensure that all NPDES permits for Phase I municipal separate storm sewer systems (i.e. systems serving over 100,000 people) and industrial sites are issued in FY 1997 with needed wet weather pollution controls.
Mid Term -Two to Four Year Objectives:
EPA working together with its partners will refine the National Watershed Assessment Program characterization and will issue a Phase II report in 1998.
EPA will continue to develop Surf Your Watershed with water quality information from EPA and its partners available by subject and geographic area for each of the 2,111 watersheds in the lower 48 States. In addition EPA will provide capability for local watershed groups to link to each others activities and will expand to include all States and territories.
Using a range of information sources (e.g. State lists of impaired waters needing TMDLs, the Phase I NWAP report, Regional and State data), EPA will work with States to identify needed actions in watersheds with the most pressing needs and include these actions in FY 1998 Management Agreements between Headquarters and the Regions and for State/EPA agreements.
EPA will build the capacity of states, tribes, and local governments to effectively protect wetland resources and encourage and support the development and implementation of State/Tribal Wetlands Conservation Plans (SWCPs) through workshops, grants and technical assistance so that by the year 2000 at least 25 States and 15 Tribes will have adopted SWCPs.
Long Term Proposed Milestones for the Nation's Aquatic Resources:
By the year 2005
- There will be an annual net increase of at least 100,000 acres of wetlands,
- 80% of the nation's surface waters will support healthy aquatic communities,
- 90 to 98% of the nation's fish and shellfish harvest areas will provide food safe for people and wildlife to eat,
- 95% of the nation's surface waters will be safe for recreation, and
- annual pollutant discharges from key point sources that threaten public health and aquatic ecosystems will be reduced by 3 billion pounds.
In addition to this milestone, EPA's Region 1 (Boston) has the following recreational fisheries related proposed milestone for the Charles River:
- a swimmable and fishable Charles River by Earth Day, 2005
Projected Needs or Recommendations to Improve Performance:
To maintain performance in future years EPA's Office of Water needs funding to remain at least at the FY96 level. If funding drops performance could too. Typically, however, funding requests for EPA's Wetlands Grants program are more than double the available funding.