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Introduction to Watershed Planning

Much of this material is based on the Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters (EPA 2008) and the Watershed Plan Builder. This Handbook is intended to help communities; watershed organizations; and state, local, tribal and federal environmental agencies develop and implement watershed plans to meet water quality standards and protect water resources. It will be particularly useful to persons working with impaired or threatened waters.

The goals of this module are as follows:

  • Introduce a flexible framework for watershed planning.
  • Point out key factors that help make successful plans.
  • Familiarize you with:
    • Six Steps to Watershed Planning
      These are the general steps you would take to improve management of a watershed for any number of purposes. Your goals could be flood protection, restoring wetlands and other critical habitats, or managing stormwater. This module and the Handbook it summarizes were intended to help watershed managers address water pollution problems; so there will be many references to water pollutants, water quality standards, and a variety of state and local land use issues affecting water quality. For any project involving managing water resources, it is difficult to achieve success without help and expertise; that is why “Build Partnerships” is the first step. In fact, partners will be important in each step in this process and necessary to accomplish your goals.
    • EPA’s 9 Minimum Elements of Successful Watershed Plans
      While the emphasis of the Handbook and this module are on the six steps of watershed planning, EPA’s section 319 Nonpoint Source Clean Water Act grant guidelines refer to “9 minimum elements” of successful watershed projects that are required for watershed-based plans that are developed and implemented with section 319 funds. An additional goal of the Handbook (and this module) is to show both how the nine elements presented in the Clean Water Act section 319 guidelines serve as building blocks to develop watershed plans and where these elements fit within the six steps of the watershed planning process. More information on the relationship between the six steps of watershed planning and the 9 elements of a watershed plan are provided in section 4.

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Section 2 of 43