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Water: Estuaries and Coastal Watersheds

Challenges Facing our Estuaries

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Many different factors can affect the health of watershed habitat. No single factor is responsible. In fact, all human activities in the coastal zone potentially affect these areas, and most problems are exacerbated by the high human population density along the coast. In addition to habitat loss, the National Estuary Program (NEP) has identified key management issues facing all 28 estuaries in the program. These problems, which cause declines in water quality, living resources, and overall ecosystem health, are the result of the interplay of many factors over time and space. The seven key management issues are depicted below. Visit NEP's Challenges page to learn more about these issues. And in the interactive watershed graphic that follows, see how everyday activities in coastal watersheds have the potential to contribute to them.

Fish and Wildlife Declines Fish and
Wildlife Declines
Toxic Chemicals Toxic
Nutrient Overloading Nutrient
Habitat Loss Habitat
Altered Water Flow Altered
Water Flow
Invasive Species Invasive
Pathogen Contamination Pathogen

Click on an area of activity in the image below to view information in the text box
on how each may contribute to one or more of the key issues facing estuaries.

forestry  industrial development
 alteration to water flow and shoreline agriculture (livestock)
agriculture (crops) shipping  urban development residential development
dredging fishing
 invasive species
key management issues

Text Description of the Contributing Factors Graphic

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