Quick Guide for Developing Effective Watershed Plans Released

The Quick Guide is intended for a wide audience—from the novice to experienced practitioners working on watershed-related issues at the federal, state, tribal, and local levels. It is also intended for managers involved in other integrated resource planning efforts, such as water and wastewater utilities, transportation departments, and local zoning offices.

In late 2013 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)released a new document called A Quick Guide to Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters (Quick Guide). This document is designed as a helpful introduction and guide to the information presented in EPA’s 2008 Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters (Handbook). The Quick Guide also describes recently released data and social media resources.

Why the Quick Guide?

EPA published the 2008 Handbook to serve as a comprehensive resource to help watershed practitioners develop more effective watershed plans as a means to improve and protect the nation’s waters. The Handbook also provides guidance on how to incorporate the nine minimum elements from the Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Source Program’s funding guidelines into the watershed plan development process. The Quick Guide provides supplemental information describing new resources that have become available as EPA and other entities have stepped up watershed plan implementation, introduced new initiatives, developed new tools, and provided additional funding sources.

The Handbook has been used by watershed practitioners, incorporated into training courses, and even adopted as part of college curricula. The purpose of the new Quick Guide, developed in response to feedback concerning the length and complexity of the full Handbook, is to provide a streamlined, easy-to-read summary. The guide also incorporates new watershed-related resources (data and communication tools) that have been developed since the Handbook was initially released. The Quick Guide is not meant to replace the Handbook, but rather to provide a brief guide to watershed planning and highlight new information that can be used for more effective decision-making, which in turn can lead to improved water resource management.

Organization of the Quick Guide

The Quick Guide is divided into two sections:

  • Section I: The Basicsprovides a streamlined summary of the Handbook. It includes themajor steps in the watershed planning process and a brief overview of the nine minimum elements to be included in watershed plans under EPA’s Clean Water Act Section 319 NonpointSource Program.
  • Section II: What’s Newhighlights recent EPA watershed-related initiatives and presents newtools that practitioners can access to improve water quality across the country. This sectionincludes tools for accessing data and prioritizing watershed restoration and protection, toolsfor sharing information and finding training opportunities, descriptions of new nationalinitiatives, and information about recent success stories and lessons learned.

For more information, and to download both the Quick Guide and the Handbook, see EPA’swebsite on theHandbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters.
Source: Nonpoint Source News-Notes APRIL 2014, ISSUE #95

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