1. “The Watershed Approach:
Community Planning and Management Strategies”
Community-Based Watershed Management
Juneau, AK March 2012
Environmental Protection Agency
Aquatic Resources Unit
Alaska Operations Office
2. The Watershed Approach
• Introduction to the watershed approach
• Why the EPA promotes the watershed approach
• Value of this approach for community planning
• Use of the watershed approach at different scales
• EPA resources available to communities to
support watershed planning
Watershed means a geographically defined land area that drains
to a common waterway, such as a stream, lake, estuary,
wetland, or ultimately the ocean.
Watershed Approach (Framework) is a flexible framework for
managing water resource quality and quantity within a
Watershed Plan is a strategy that provides assessment and
management information for a watershed, including:
analyses, actions, participants, and resources for
development and implementation.
Wetland Plan is a strategy that provides assessment and
management information for wetlands within the
planning area. May or may not be watershed.
Wetland Program Plan is a strategy for developing and
implementing the “Core Elements” of a local wetland
program. In context of Wetland Program Development
1. Monitoring & Assessment 2. Regulatory Action 3. Voluntary Restoration & Protection
4. Water Quality Standards for Wetlands
5. Watershed Approach
• Partnerships with stakeholder involvement
• Geographically-defined planning area
• Coordinated management actions based on
science and data
6. What’s the Process?
The Watershed Planning Process is a series of
cooperative, iterative steps to:
1) characterize existing conditions,
2) identify and prioritize problems,
3) define management objectives,
4) develop protection and remediation strategies,
5) implement, adapt selected actions as necessary.
7. Watershed and Wetland Planning
• Planning is planning: crafting a shared vision for
your community. Effective planning creates a
road map to achieve that vision.
• Identifying where you are now, where you want to
be, and how to get there.
• It helps to understand what obstacles are in your
path and who needs to participate in the effort.
8. Watershed and Wetland Planning
• The watershed approach allows planning to be
holistic and flexible.
– Scale may be large or small, focus broad or narrow.
– Key is focus on watershed needs.
• All forms of planning can use the watershed
– E.g., wetland, green infrastructure, mitigation,
9. Why the Watershed Approach?
Because reality eventually imposes itself.
– Life on earth is bound to the water cycle.
– Watersheds are the operational/organizational units of
– Our communities rely on healthy aquatic ecosystems.
• Water for drinking, municipal, commercial, industrial uses,
creating and maintaining habitat for plants, fish and wildlife that
support subsistence, sport, and commercial harvest, recreation,
tourism and quality of life.
10. Why the Watershed Approach?
– The health of aquatic ecosystems is controlled by
watershed land use.
– If we do not actively plan for and work towards healthy
watersheds, we will lose them.
• Water quality has not been maintained or improved anywhere on
the planet without directed local effort.
11. How do watershed and wetland planning
support the development of
community-based projects and
12. Watershed and Wetland Planning
“Watershed needs” are community
E.g., flooding, erosion, stormwater
contamination, surface water
impairment, reduced fish returns,
loss of shellfish habitat, lost
13. Benefits of Watershed Approach
The Watershed Planning Process allows
1) prioritize issues & actions
2) build consensus about those priorities
3) take action that is efficient & effective
14. Watershed and Wetland Planning
Watershed Plans provide information to support
stakeholder (public, property owners, developers,
E.g., Is this a wetland? Is this water impaired? Does this culvert block fish
passage? Are there land use restrictions or permitting requirements that
affect my project?
Watershed Plans can be regulatory or non-regulatory.
E.g., could: establish riparian buffers adjacent to impaired waters, require
a permit for riparian development, require compensation for riparian
impacts, prioritize lands for conservation easements, prioritize outreach
activities, provide tax incentives for buffer establishment, provide grants
for buffer establishment.
15. Alaska Planning Examples
• Juneau Wetlands Management Plan
• Anchorage Wetlands Management Plan
• Homer land suitability mapping, wetland management
• MSB wetland, stormwater, Green Infrastructure planning
• Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership Strategic Action Plan
• Montana Creek Lands Assessment, Trout Unlimited
• Matanuska River Watershed Ecosystem Based Plan, Chickaloon
Village Traditional Council
• Water Resources Stewardship Plan, Cheesh-na Tribal Council
• ILF Compensation Planning Frameworks, SEAL Trust, Great Land
Trust, The Conservation Fund, SAWC
16. What resources, strategies, and tools
does the EPA have to support
communities to do this work?
Watershed Plan Builder
Healthy Watersheds Initiative
Wetland Program Development Grants/ESTP
Clean Water/Drinking Water Revolving Loans
All at: www.epa.gov
17. Why EPA supports community-based
• Local action is the most effective, and CWA requires it
• States, Tribes have primary responsibility to prevent
• States, Tribes are intended to implement the section 402
and 404 permitting programs
– National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
– Permits for Dredged or Fill Materials (not just wetlands)
• EPA is to support research, provide technical
services and financial aid to States, Tribes,
interstate agencies, and municipalities
27. Top 10 Watershed Lessons Learned
• The best plans have clear visions, goals, action items
• Good leaders are committed & empower others
• A coordinator at the watershed level is desirable
• Environmental, economic, social values are compatible
• Plans only succeed if implemented
• Partnerships equal power
• Good tools are available
• Measure, communicate, & account for progress
• Education & involvement drive action
• Build on small successes
28. Parting Thoughts
“A good doctor treats the patient,
not the disease.”
“Water is the most critical resource issue of our lifetime
and our children's lifetime. The health of our waters
is the principal measure of how we live on the land"
— Luna Leopold
Matthew LaCroix Jill Gable
Aquatic Resources Unit Watershed Unit
U.S. EPA, Region 10 US EPA, Region 10
1200 Sixth Ave., Suite 900
Alaska Operations Office Seattle, WA 98101-3140
(907) 271-1480 (206) 553-2582