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Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting


Watershed-based NPDES permitting is a process that emphasizes addressing all stressors within a hydrologically-defined drainage basin, rather than addressing individual pollutant sources on a discharge-by-discharge basis. Watershed-based permitting can encompass a variety of activities ranging from synchronizing permits within a basin to developing water quality-based effluent limits using a multiple discharger modeling analysis. The type of permitting activity will vary depending on the unique characteristics of the watershed and the sources of pollution impacting it. The ultimate goal of this effort is to develop and issue NPDES permits that better protect entire watersheds. EPA's Water Quality Trading Policy describes flexible approaches to meeting water quality requirements.

This web site provides information related to the development and implementation of NPDES watershed-based permitting approaches.

Policies and Guidance

Background Information

  • Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting: Rethinking Permitting As Usual

  • Brochure defines watershed-based NPDES permitting, including potential approaches and benefits. Also provides examples of watershed-based permitting happening around the country and EPA's efforts to promote this approach.
    Date Published: 05/01/2003
  • Watershed-Based Permitting Under the NPDES Program: A Summary of Related Background Information

  • Provides a compilation and summary of background information relevant to watershed-based permitting.
    Date Published: 09/30/2002
  • Potential Partners in Promoting Watershed-based Permitting: An Analysis of Watershed Organizations

  • Provides a cross-sectional analysis of successful organizations engaged in watershed management. As described in the report, EPA analyzed 29 selected organizations in 17 states for potential that these organizations may have to play a role in implementing watershed-based NPDES permitting based on their current goals and activities.
    Date Published: 09/30/2002
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Last updated on July 31, 2007 9:00 AM