DEEP: Watershed Based Plans

Watershed Based Plans and Watershed Management Plans

Development of a watershed management plan is a key step in Watershed Management, leading to restoration of a polluted or otherwise impaired waterbody.  Development and implementation of these plans to focus on addressing a specific nonpoint source impairment identified on DEEP's Integrated Water Quality Report to Congress qualifies them as Watershed Based Plans, with the ultimate goal of reducing or removing the impairment, so the waterbody can meet Water Quality Standards, and be removed from the list.  US EPA has described Nine Elements that must be addressed in an approved Watershed Based Plan to qualify for funding under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act.  Watershed management plans can widen the scope of Watershed Based Plans by addressing other water and land resource issues on a watershed scale, above and beyond the specific impairment identified on DEEP's Impaired Waters List.

CT DEEP has developed a CT DEEP Clean Water Act Grant Guidance Watershed Based Plan Checklist  that will be required for grant recipients to receive DEEP Clean Water Act Funding for Watershed Based Plan development for years 2010 and beyond.  It will also be useful for authors of Plans funded in previous years to review and complete the checklist to help keep them on track to meet DEEP and EPA's expectations for Watershed Based Plan development.

Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is a complex problem.  Many of Connecticut's waterbodies are classified as impaired, due to exceedance of a specific water quality parameter, such as indicator bacteria or nutrients from nonpoint sources of pollution.  Management Practices can address a wide spectrum of NPS pollutants to maximize their value to water quality and the environment as a whole. 

One of the most important goals of the DEEP Watershed Management Program is to assist in the development of comprehensive watershed management plans, to protect and restore water quality and conserve and manage water resources, by guiding local land use decision making, and enhancing pollution prevention programs.  Contact your DEEP Watershed Manager for further assistance.  It is recommended that all watershed management plans for impaired or threatened basins include all nine elements of a Watershed Based Plan to ensure eligibility for 319 funding.

Examples of Watershed Management Plans and other watershed planning documents that have been produced in Connecticut are available for download.  Watershed Based Plans listed in Connecticut serve as models for plan development in additional watersheds.  In addition, several watershed managment plans produced prior to inception of the Nine Element approach for Watershed Based Plans, are available.

Detailed guidance is contained in the following report: 

EPA Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters  and accompanying Factsheet

EPA has also developed a web-based Watershed Plan Builder which guides planners through, and creates a detailed outline for, a Watershed Based Plan. 

The Nine Elements that must be included in an EPA-approved Watershed Based Plan are: 

  1. IMPAIRMENT   An identification of the causes and sources of pollution, that will need to be controlled to achieve the load reductions estimated to fix the impairment, and to achieve any other watershed goals identified in the watershed-based plan.
  2. LOAD REDUCTION   An estimate of the load reductions expected for the management measures described.  Several models have been developed including AVG-WLF and Sparrow.  Modeling can be simple or quite complex depending on the application.  Spreadsheets and landcover mapping are typically employed in these models to estimate load reductions.
  3. MANAGEMENT MEASURES   A description of the NPS management measures that will need to be implemented to achieve the estimated load reductions. (include a map or detailed description).
  4. TECHNICAL & FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE   An estimate of the amounts of technical and financial assistance needed, and/or the sources and authorities that will be relied on, to implement this plan.
  5. PUBLIC INFORMATION & EDUCATION   An information/education component that will be used to enhance public understanding of the project and encourage their early and continued participation in selecting, designing, and implementing the NPS management measures that will be implemented.
  6. SCHEDULE   An expedited schedule for implementing NPS management measures identified.
  7. MILESTONES   A description of interim, measurable milestones for determining whether NPS management measures or other controls are being implemented.
  8. PERFORMANCE   Criteria to determine whether loading reductions are being achieved over time, and if progress is being made towards attaining water quality standards and, if not, the criteria to determine if this plan, or a related TMDL, needs to be revised.
  9. MONITORING   A monitoring component to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation efforts over time.

Watershed Based Plans share common elements with Total Maximum Daily Load Analyses (TMDLs), and in many cases, it would be possible to build upon existing TMDLs to produce Watershed Based Plans or vice-versa.

Other guidance for producing Watershed Based Plans and Watershed Management Plans can be found at numerous websites including:

Center for Watershed Protection Urban Subwatershed Restoration Series

CTIC: Conservation Technology Information Center at Purdue University

New Jersey Watershed Management Program's Watershed-based Implementation Plan page