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Water: Watersheds

A Watershed Approach

A watershed approach is the most effective framework to address today's water resource challenges. Watersheds supply drinking water, provide recreation and respite, and sustain life. More than $450 billion in food and fiber, manufactured goods, and tourism depends on clean water and healthy watersheds.

Photo of Tobyhanna Creek, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, courtesy of Nicholas Tonelli

Building Livable Communities Starts with A Watershed Address (PDF) (2 pp, 604K, about PDF) by Benjamin H. Grumbles- Assistant Administrator for Water, EPA

A Watershed Approach:
  • Is hydrologically defined
    • geographically focused
    • includes all stressors (air and water)
  • Involves all stakeholders
    • includes public (federal, state, local) and private sector
    • is community based
    • includes a coordinating framework
  • Strategically addresses priority water resource goals (e.g. water quality, habitat)
    • integrates multiple programs (regulatory and voluntary)
    • based on sound science
    • aided by strategic watershed plans
    • uses adaptive management

To learn more about implementing watershed approaches, try out the Watershed Plan Builder and see EPA’s draft Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Watersheds. This document follows the watershed planning process and highlights specific technical tools for use in each step in the watershed planning effort. EPA’s Watershed Academy and the Watershed Academy’s Webcasts also provide training and information on implementing watershed approaches. Also, check out EPA’s Watershed Tools Fact Sheet (PDF) (2 pp., 281K, about PDF) for a list of hot Web sites and other watershed resources.

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