Recovery Potential Screening Tools: Downloadable Tools for Comparing Watersheds
On this page:
- About RPS Tools in General
- Statewide RPS Tools
- Generic RPS Tool Template
- About RPS Tool User Support
About RPS Tools in General. RPS Tools are custom-coded Excel spreadsheets that can store watershed indicator datasets, use them to auto-measure RPS index scores and generate project results in several formats useful for watershed comparison and priority setting. They require only moderate skills in the use of Excel. RPS Tools perform all RPS index calculations automatically and generate maps, graphs and tables of index values and rank orders from these calculations. Users control the choice and weighting of watershed indicators, the watersheds compared and the customized appearance of tables, graphs and maps in their screening results.
The earliest RPS Tools were Excel spreadsheets that calculated and rank-ordered the Ecological, Stressor, Social and Integrated Index scores for a user-selected group of watersheds after entering their data. Bubble plot graphs were done separately using an R statistical script and maps were done separately in GIS software. All functions, including indicator data storage, now take place within the Excel file.
An RPS Tool is designed to cover a specific geographic area and store watershed data at one or more specific scales of interest. In order to compare a group of watersheds, the RPS Tool requires data on specific watershed attributes measured consistently across those watersheds. Most RPS Tools currently in use cover whole states, although Tools have been developed upon request for large, multi-state river basins. A Statewide RPS Tool (see below) may contain a standard set of 200+ national indicators, a state-specific set of indicators, or both. The national indicators data are available for HUC12 scale watersheds which average about 35 square miles in area. Additional watershed scales and data at those scales have sometimes been added; for example, HUC8s (averaging approximately 1400 square miles each) or NHDPlus catchments (about 1 square mile apiece). All RPS Tools accept new indicator data added by the user at a watershed scale already present in the Tool. The Generic RPS Tool Template (see below) hasn’t had data embedded and is not specific to a geographic location – both data and location need to be selected and provided by the user. It is also possible to create and download a modified version of the RPS Tool for any user-defined geographic area at Watershed Index Online (WSIO).
Statewide RPS Tools. Recovery Potential Screening originated as EPA assistance to state water programs for performing their Clean Water Act restoration duties. After several years of single-state Tool development projects, Statewide RPS Tools were developed for each of the lower 48 states and first issued in 2014. These Tools contain 200+ embedded indicators for all HUC12s that are wholly or partially within the state’s boundary. Many of the indicators are landscape characteristics derived from common GIS datasets, but other attributes such as selected impairment-specific data derived from field monitoring, are also included. The indicators selected for this purpose were included mainly because they have been useful in other RPS projects and were available with consistent data across the lower 48 states. RPS Tools for AK, HI and US Territories may be developed upon request, as resources permit. As state-scale Tools may be updated incrementally by specific projects with new or additional data, the most recent Statewide RPS Tools can be found at the link below.
Generic RPS Tool Template. This version of the RPS Tool is set up to enable the user to select their own geographic area of coverage, include up to three different watershed scales within their area, and add indicator data at each watershed scale. Once a user has added watersheds and indicator data, their Tool can be used to calculate all the RPS indices, create scoring and rank-ordered lists, and develop user-customized graphs at any given scale. The map functions are not supported in this Tool. Screening results cannot be displayed in map form with the Generic Tool because the map needs to be added while the Tool is being constructed. Alternatives include using GIS software to handle the mapping component separately, or users may visit Watershed Index Online (WSIO) to create a Tool with a custom map.
About RPS Tool User Support. All RPS Tools contain basic instructions embedded within the Excel file; look for the light green text boxes at the top of every page. The RPS Tool User Manual (PDF) (53 pp, 31 MB) also provides more detailed treatment of all the components and functions of the Tool file, including more advanced techniques for customizing the bubble plot graphics and color-coded watershed maps. Users should note that guidance on how to use the Tool should be accompanied by reading the Step by Step RPS Methodology and other resources found throughout this website.