Watershed Assessments and Watershed Management Plans
A watershed | Remodeling experts is the entire area that drains into a river or river system. It can also mean a ridge that divides areas drained by different rivers.
Healthy watersheds have a huge impact on our lives. They help us get clean, safe drinking water at a lower cost and improve our quality of life in many ways.
What is a Watershed?
A watershed is the land area surrounding a body of water. The term is derived from the fact that gravity causes all of the water that falls on the land to drain downward, into the body of water below it. As the water moves down through the stream system, it picks up pollutants from the surface and underlying soil, which can affect the natural characteristics of the stream.
The most familiar example of a watershed is your backyard creek or pond. All of the rain that flows over or under your property, including the groundwater you use to water your lawn or garden, is part of the same watershed as that creek.
A watershed may be as small as a modest inland lake or as large as the Mississippi River basin, which covers 31 states and two Canadian provinces. Watersheds are also referred to as drainage basins, catchments or hydrologic units. The ridge that separates two areas drained by different rivers is called the divide.
What is a Watershed Assessment?
A watershed assessment is a method of assessing the natural resources in a particular area. It provides a framework for identifying current conditions and issues, and is a critical step in the watershed planning process.
Healthy Watersheds assessments compare the health and vulnerability of small watersheds based on a set of factors that are selected for each study area. The results provide a comparative picture of how well a small watershed is doing and what it might need to do to become more healthy or less vulnerable.
For example, if the perennial cover indicator is high in one part of the assessment area, forest managers would use this information to develop site-specific forest practice prescriptions that further regulate forest practices in that area. Using these tools, people can view and map data for different indices, including Perennial Cover, Hydrology, and more. You may have to click the “layer information” icon for each index to view the full list of options.
What is a Watershed Management Plan?
A Watershed Management Plan is a plan to manage the natural resources and protect the water quality of a specific watershed. The plan identifies problems and solutions in the watershed. It includes an assessment of the current state of the watershed and a description of the waterbodies in the watershed. The plan also describes the causes of impairment and identifies pollutant sources and groups of similar sources. It also estimates the load reductions expected from management measures.
The plan provides a roadmap for water resource programs to simultaneously meet federal mandates, improve local water quality and manage natural resources. It allows for the consolidation of program tasks (such as hearings, notices, and assessments) for all dischargers in a watershed at one time and helps reduce administrative costs.
The Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper’s Healthy Niagara project is currently developing a Regional Lake Erie Watershed Management Plan to meet the Nine-Element Plan required by NYSDOS. To learn more about this project and its progress, click the link below.
What is a Watershed Restoration Plan?
A watershed restoration plan (WRP) is a plan developed by federal, state or local government agencies and/or non-governmental organizations in collaboration with stakeholders for the purpose of aquatic resource restoration, creation, enhancement, or preservation. A WRP may also include a stormwater management action plan.
A WRP is one of the required components for groups seeking funding through EPA’s Section 319 program to fund water quality restoration activities in their impaired streams. WRPs typically have nine minimum elements outlined by EPA to provide a comprehensive framework for watershed groups to guide their efforts to restore, protect and enhance water quality in their communities.
Stream restoration projects reduce non-point source pollution loads and improve the condition of rivers, creeks, wetlands and lakes, making them healthier places for people and wildlife. Watershed restoration work is also an opportunity to build community resiliency by improving habitat and floodplain function, reducing road sedimentation, and increasing opportunities for recreation.