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EPA Support to Facilitate Watershed Approaches

EPA's National Water Program has examined its work in order to identify ways that the agency can better support watershed approaches. Besides the provision of basic national programs upon which watershed approaches are built, specific operational changes have been suggested. These include reduced water quality reporting requirements, priority consideration for Clean Water Act grants for watershed activities, use of funds under the Safe Drinking Water Act for source water protection , simplified wetlands permitting, allowances for NPDES permitting backlogs, longer cycles for reviewing and, if appropriate, revising water quality standards, reduced monitoring under the Safe Drinking Water Act, TMDL assistance, and facilitated development of wetlands mitigation banks and effluent trading. These programmatic changes are described in more detail in another EPA publication entitled, Why Watersheds? (EPA800-F-96-001).

The Office of Water offers assistance to help water quality managers and staff throughout the public and private sectors develop and implement watershed approaches. The four main areas covered include watershed management training, statewide watershed approach facilitation, watershed program scoping, and technical analysis assistance. Training and facilitation have been the most actively requested services of the watershed assistance program.

Watershed management training is available through the Watershed Academy, which offers a set of core courses and related reference materials about basic watershed management principles and techniques as well as contact information on more specialized and advanced courses. The core courses address watershed management fundamentals, watershed tools, the statewide approach to watershed management, and an executive overview course. During 1995, the two-day Statewide Watershed Management Course was offered in five locations to over 300 people. Completion of the other core courses is planned for late 1996. Although EPA itself offers only a few courses, dozens of watershed training opportunities exist. The Watershed Academy will continually update its Catalogue of Watershed Training Opportunities (available on internet) to spread information about watershed-oriented training courses offered by other local, state and federal agencies and private organizations. Participation in an interagency watershed training workgroup will be another source of joint planning, shared training materials and expertise.

Watershed approach facilitation is generally provided to states and tribes that intend to reorient their water resources management programs along watershed lines. Facilitation involves several onsite working meetings with water program managers and decision makers to help them develop a transition plan, schedule, and comprehensive organizational framework based on major river basins and their component watersheds. Twelve states contacted EPA for some form of facilitation assistance during 1995, and several have completed significant reorientations of their programs to implement a watershed approach.

In addition to training and facilitation, the Office of Water offers assistance in watershed program scoping and technical analysis to states and tribes. Scoping projects are preliminary to full-scale reorientation and involve one or two meetings with managers to determine what form a watershed approach might take, the effort involved, and the next steps needed. Technical analysis projects focus on scientific, economic or programmatic analysis as related to specific watershed management issues.

For information on the Watershed Academy, contact Doug Norton at 202-260-7017. For information on the statewide watershed management course, contact Greg Currey at 202-260-1718. For information on watershed facilitation, scoping, or technical analysis assistance, contact either Doug or Deborah Nagle at 202-260-2656.

Several EPA documents may be of particular interest.

Watershed Protection: A Statewide Approach (EPA841-R-95-004)

Watershed Protection: A Project Focus (EPA841-R-95-003)

Watershed '93: A National Conference on Watershed Management (Proceedings) (EPA840-R-94-002)

Why Watersheds? (EPA800-F-96-001)

Printed copies of these and other final (non-draft) documents can be obtained by telephone at 513-489-8190, by fax at 513-489-8695, or by written request to NCEPI, 11029 Kenwood Road, Building 5, Cincinnati, OH 45242. Please include the title and EPA Publication Number when ordering.

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