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.
- Watershed Approach Framework (1996) explains EPA's vision for watershed approaches and builds upon the Office of Water Watershed Protection Approach Framework, endorsed by senior EPA managers in 1991.
- National Estuary Program is a coastal watershed-based program.
- Total Maximum Daily Loads are a planning tool that can be used to establish pollution budgets for polluted watersheds.
- Nonpoint Source Program provides funding to states to address polluted runoff.
- Section 319 Success Stories illustrate measurable results in nonpoint source pollution reduction.
- Targeted Watersheds Grants Program provides implementation and capacity building grants.
- Watershed Funding tools and resources are available.
- Try out the Watershed Plan Builder online to create your watershed plan.
- Technical Tools for Watershed Management include databases, mapping, and water quality models.
- EPA's Strategic Plan (Chapter Two: Clean and Safe Water) includes a goal to protect the quality of rivers, lakes, and streams on a watershed basis and protect coastal and ocean waters.
- The Watershed Approach is one of the four pillars of the Sustainable Infrastructure Initiative.
- Why Watersheds? (1996) describes various benefits of using watershed approaches.
- Other Watershed Links includes a list of other websites related to watershed management.
- The Watershed and Wetland Protection Information Kit [BROKEN] is a collection of resources by the Center for Watershed Protection and the National Association of Counties (with support from EPA) to assist county and local officials with efforts to protect and restore the multiple benefits of their community's water resources.