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Recovery Potential Screening

RPS Training and User Support

Besides providing the RPS tools, indicators and methodology, this website provides a wide variety of training and technical information resources that are directly related to RPS. This page can help RPS users get to know the technical details underlying RPS methods and tools, carry out their screening projects and use the results.  

On this page:

RPS Fact Sheet 

This two-page flyer summarizes basic information about the RPS approach and tools on the front page and lists the status of RPS Statewide Tools and support projects by state and territory on the flip side.

Go To RPS Fact Sheet (PDF) (2 pp, 198K)

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RPS Tool Training Videos 

Using the Recovery Potential Screening (RPS) Tool Video Training Series is comprised of short instructional videos that each focus on critical elements of the RPS Tool and how to use it most effectively. Videos in this series are for technical audiences and serve as a comprehensive, self-paced training course and reference for users unable to attend RPS workshops or webinars. Many of the videos include on-screen demonstrations of how to carry out specific screening and analysis tasks within the Tool itself. Most are about 5 minutes in length. The list of RPS training videos available on YouTube appears below; unlinked titles are coming soon.

The following links exit the site Exit

  • Introducing the RPS Tool
  • Basics of RPS Tool Structure
  • The Screening Process
  • Creating Watershed Subsets in RPS
  • The Math Behind RPS Indices
  • The SETUP Tab: Creating a Screening Run
  • The RESULTS Tab: Viewing Scores in Tables
  • Bubble Plots: Viewing Scores as Graphs
  • The MAP Tab: Viewing Scores as Maps
  • The RPS Embedded Data Table
  • Adding Your Own Indicator Data
  • Exploring RPS Indicator Statistics
  • RPS Base Indicators
  • RPS Ecological Indicators
  • RPS Stressor Indicators
  • RPS Social Indicators
  • The Indicator Info Tab
  • Customizing RPS Bubble Plots

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RPS Tool User's Manual 

This document provides detailed treatment of all the components and functions of the Tool, including more advanced techniques for customizing the bubble plot graphics and color-coded watershed maps. Users should note that this manual focuses on the mechanics of Tool use, which should be accompanied by reading about RPS analytical approach in the step-by-step account of the RPS methodology in this website.

Go To RPS Tool User Manual (PDF) (54 pp, 34 MB)

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RPS Methods Support Resources 

  • Watershed Tools for Local Scale Projects. Although the most common RPS Tools are statewide in coverage, they adapt easily to use on smaller, sub-state areas such as ecoregions, medium-sized river basins and counties. This document guides local users in the basic ways they can use the RPS Tool on their own area of interest while still referring to its statewide data as a broader, comparative context.

    Go To Watershed Tools for Local Scale Projects (PDF) (4 pp, 662 K)

  • Watershed Tools for Tribes. The RPS Tool can support comparative assessment of watersheds that contain tribal lands within any given state. This document provides steps for tribes to follow when identifying and screening a subset of watersheds with tribal lands, or when screening watersheds immediately adjacent to tribal watersheds.

    Go To Watershed Tools for Tribes (PDF) (2 pp, 614 K)

  • Developing New RPS Indicators. Although hundreds of watershed indicators are publicly available at one watershed scale (HUC12), nearly all RPS projects find needs or opportunities to supplement these with more from their own area’s datasets. This document addresses several crucial elements for developing new RPS indicators that will be fully compatible with the RPS Tool and its existing indicator data.

    Go To Developing New RPS Indicators (PDF) (2 pp, 134 K)

  • RPS Indicator Scoring Techniques.There are usually multiple ways to measure a watershed attribute when a new indicator is being developed. This document describes several of the common ways in which different indicators can scored.

    Go to RPS Indicator Scoring Techniques (PDF) (2 pp, 106 K)

  • Restoration and recovery literature database.  is a key-worded and partially annotated collection of over 1600 technical publication citations in one downloadable MS Access file. The contents of this database are citations and annotations of papers that show relationships between specific water or watershed characteristics and their effect on restorability. Many of these papers played a substantial role in providing background information for developing RPS indicators. Because of its special coding, you must download this file and use it locally. Note that your copy of this database is open, enabling you to add new references or key words if desired.

    Restoration and Recovery Literature Database (zipped)(1600 pp, 2 MB)

  • RPS Scenarios. When many different watersheds are assessed and compared, it can become an “apples and oranges” situation if they vary significantly and the purpose for comparison is too broadly defined. Developing scenarios is a method for sorting the watersheds into more similar subgroups, based on a combination of key watershed characteristics, impairment sources, risks and potential strategies for management, and then screening each scenario separately. This document reviews how defining scenarios and their member watersheds can improve the specificity of a screening and increase the usefulness of an RPS project.

    Go To RPS Scenarios (PDF) (12 pp, 150 K)

  • Using Expert Elicitation in RPS. As an assessment process that attempts to estimate present conditions but also future environmental responses, RPS is difficult to validate with certainty. Expert elicitation offers a structured approach to applying expert opinion insights on watershed condition and prospects for restorability, as an input to QA/QC of RPS watershed rankings. This document was based on experiences with RPS and expert elicitation in a statewide RPS project with substantial local involvement.

    Go To Using Expert Elicitation in RPS (PDF) (4 pp, 241 K)

  • WSIO and RPS Watershed Indicators Master List.  This table includes a large list of 500+ indicators that have been compiled nationally at HUC12 scale as part of the Watershed Index Online library. Also, this file identifies those indicators that appear in the standard set embedded in the 2018 RPS Statewide Tools for the conterminous states.    

    WSIO and RPS Indicators Master Table 2018(2 pp, 179 K)  

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RPS Project Reports and Papers 

  • A Method for Comparative Analysis of Recovery Potential in Impaired Waters Restoration Planning. This paper appeared in Environmental Management journal in August 2009. It describes an indicator-based method for setting restoration priorities among large numbers of impaired waters through using recovery potential screening. The paper covers the screening methods, their programmatic purpose, and three state or multi-state scale studies. The original publication Exitavailable at www.springerlink.com Exitremains relevant as a discussion of general approach and need within watershed programs, but it precedes many of the advances in RPS Tool development and many more recent RPS projects.

    Go to A Method for Comparative Analysis of Recovery Potential in Impaired Waters Restoration Planning Exit

  • RPS of Kentucky Watersheds in Support of Nutrients Management. Between 2013 and 2015, EPA Office of Water assisted several states in performing statewide watershed assessments as input to nutrients management strategies and priority setting. Each RPS nutrients project was designed to help states apply recommendations from the EPA Office of Water 2011 nutrients policy memorandum. The two-stage approach in each state project compared HUC8 watersheds in a first, targeting stage and then focused on screening and comparing HUC12s in a second, implementation-oriented stage. All the RPS nutrients projects encouraged state-specific customizing of the approach in identifying stage 1 scenarios, establishing state approaches for priority watershed identification, and selection and weighting of the most nutrients-relevant indicators for use in both stages. Kentucky’s RPS tool contained 300 indicators with full statewide coverage at one or more of the HUC14, HUC12, or HUC8 scales (the majority – 281 of 300 - are at HUC12 scale). Stage 1 of this analysis examined an urban-suburban scenario for nutrients management and a rural-agricultural scenario statewide. A more detailed Stage 2 screening focused on the HUC12 subwatersheds within single HUC8s from each scenario in this report.

    Go to RPS of Kentucky Watersheds in Support of Nutrients Management. (PDF) (39 pp, 4 MB)

  • RPS of Tennessee Watersheds in Support of Nutrients Management. Between 2013 and 2015, EPA Office of Water assisted several states in performing statewide watershed assessments as input to nutrients management strategies and priority setting. Each RPS nutrients project was designed to help states apply recommendations from the EPA Office of Water 2011 nutrients policy memorandum. The two-stage approach in each state project compared HUC8 watersheds in a first, targeting stage and then focused on screening and comparing HUC12s in a second, implementation-oriented stage. All the RPS nutrients projects encouraged state-specific customizing of the approach in identifying stage 1 scenarios, establishing state approaches for priority watershed identification, and selection and weighting of the most nutrients-relevant indicators for use in both stages. Tennessee’s RPS tool contains 310 indicators with full statewide coverage at HUC12, HUC8, or both scales. Stage 1 of this analysis examined an urban-suburban scenario for nutrients management and a rural-agricultural scenario statewide. A more detailed Stage 2 screening focused on the HUC12 subwatersheds within single HUC8s from each scenario in this report.

    Go to RPS of Tennessee Watersheds in Support of Nutrients Management (PDF) (33 pp, 4 MB)

  • RPS of Louisiana Watersheds in Support of Nutrients ManagementBetween 2013 and 2015, EPA Office of Water assisted several states in performing statewide watershed assessments as input to nutrients management strategies and priority setting. Each RPS nutrients project was designed to help states apply recommendations from the EPA Office of Water 2011 nutrients policy memorandum. The two-stage approach in each state project compared HUC8 watersheds in a first, targeting stage and then focused on screening and comparing HUC12s in a second, implementation-oriented stage. All the RPS nutrients projects encouraged state-specific customizing of the approach in identifying stage 1 scenarios, establishing state approaches for priority watershed identification, and selection and weighting of the most nutrients-relevant indicators for use in both stages. Louisiana’s RPS Tool contained nearly 300 indicators with full statewide coverage at HUC12, HUC8, or both scales. Stage 1 of this analysis examined ecoregionally-based scenarios across the state to select ecoregions of greatest interest for nutrients management tailored to ecoregional characteristics and issues. Of the 15  ecoregions in Louisiana, LA DEQ selected the Upper Mississippi River Alluvial Plains (UMRAP), the Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Plains (LMRAP), the Southern Plains Terrace and Flatwoods (SPTF) and the Gulf Coastal Prairie (GCP) ecoregions for detailed Stage 2 RPS analysis.

    Go to RPS of Louisiana Watersheds in Support of Nutrients Management. (PDF) (54 pp, 13 MB)

  • RPS of New Mexico Watersheds in Support of Nutrients Management.  Between 2015 and 2017, EPA Office of Water assisted several states in performing statewide watershed assessments as input to nutrients management strategies and priority setting. Each RPS nutrients project was designed to help states apply recommendations from the EPA Office of Water 2011 nutrients policy memorandum. The two-stage approach in each state project compared HUC8 watersheds in a first, targeting stage and then focused on screening and comparing HUC12s in a second, implementation-oriented stage. All the RPS nutrients projects encouraged state-specific customizing of the approach in identifying stage 1 scenarios, establishing state approaches for priority watershed identification, and selection and weighting of the most nutrients-relevant indicators for use in both stages. New Mexico’s RPS Tool contained nearly 400 indicators with full statewide coverage at HUC12, HUC8, or both scales. The four scenarios demonstrated at HUC8 and HUC12 scales addressed urban point sources, urban non-point sources, rural point sources and rural non-point sources.

    Go to RPS of New Mexico Watersheds in Support of Nutrients Management. (PDF) (54 pp, 13 MB)

  • RPS of Iowa Watersheds in Support of Nutrients Management.  Between 2015 and 2017, EPA Office of Water assisted several states in performing statewide watershed assessments as input to nutrients management strategies and priority setting. Each RPS nutrients project was designed to help states apply recommendations from the EPA Office of Water 2011 nutrients policy memorandum. The two-stage approach in each state project compared HUC8 watersheds in a first, targeting stage and then focused on screening and comparing HUC12s in a second, implementation-oriented stage. All the RPS nutrients projects encouraged state-specific customizing of the approach in identifying stage 1 scenarios, establishing state approaches for priority watershed identification, and selection and weighting of the most nutrients-relevant indicators for use in both stages. Iowa’s RPS Tool contained nearly 400 indicators with full statewide coverage at HUC12, HUC8, or both scales. The four scenarios demonstrated at HUC8 and HUC12 scales addressed urban point sources, urban non-point sources, rural point sources and rural non-point sources.

    Go to RPS of Iowa Watersheds in Support of Nutrients Management. (PDF) (54 pp, 13 MB)

  • RPS of North Dakota Watersheds in Support of Nutrients Management.  Between 2015 and 2017, EPA Office of Water assisted several states in performing statewide watershed assessments as input to nutrients management strategies and priority setting. Each RPS nutrients project was designed to help states apply recommendations from the EPA Office of Water 2011 nutrients policy memorandum. The two-stage approach in each state project compared HUC8 watersheds in a first, targeting stage and then focused on screening and comparing HUC12s in a second, implementation-oriented stage. All the RPS nutrients projects encouraged state-specific customizing of the approach in identifying stage 1 scenarios, establishing state approaches for priority watershed identification, and selection and weighting of the most nutrients-relevant indicators for use in both stages. North Dakota’s RPS Tool contained nearly 400 indicators with full statewide coverage at HUC12, HUC8, or both scales. The four scenarios demonstrated at HUC8 and HUC12 scales addressed urban point sources, urban non-point sources, rural point sources and rural non-point sources.

Go to RPS of North Dakota Watersheds in Support of Nutrients Management. (PDF) (54 pp, 13 MB)

  • RPS of Massachusetts Watersheds in Support of Nutrients Management. Between 2013 and 2015, EPA Office of Water assisted several states in performing statewide watershed assessments as input to nutrients management strategies and priority setting. Each RPS nutrients project was designed to help states apply recommendations from the EPA Office of Water 2011 nutrients policy memorandum. The two-stage approach in each state project compared HUC8 watersheds in a first, targeting stage and then focused on screening and comparing HUC12s in a second, implementation-oriented stage. All the RPS nutrients projects encouraged state-specific customizing of the approach in identifying stage 1 scenarios, establishing state approaches for priority watershed identification, and selection and weighting of the most nutrients-relevant indicators for use in both stages. Massachusetts’s RPS tool contains 341 indicators with full statewide coverage at HUC8, HUC12, and/or SWMI catchment scales. Stage 1 of this analysis examined an urban-suburban scenario for nutrients management and a rural-agricultural scenario statewide. A more detailed Stage 2 screening focused on the HUC12 subwatersheds from each scenario in this report.

    Go to RPS of Massachusetts Watersheds in Support of Nutrients Management (PDF) (33 pp, 2 MB)

  • Multi-Scale Screening Assessment of Recovery Potential in Maryland Watersheds.  This 2010 screening assessment was undertaken collaboratively by Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) and the EPA to determine which of the impaired watersheds were the strongest candidates for restoration and re-attainment of water quality standards. The purpose was to help inform strategies for targeting restoration efforts where they would be more likely to result in successful restoration progress and eventual removal of currently impaired waters from impaired waters lists.

    Go to A Multi-Scale Screening Assessment of Recovery Potential in Maryland Watersheds (PDF) (2 pp, 296 K)

  • A Rapid Screening Assessment of Brook Trout Recovery Potential in Mining-Impacted Middle Atlantic Region Watersheds. This 2008-2009 study was a joint RPS effort of state and federal agencies with common interests in rehabilitating abandoned mine lands, restoring native fish habitats and returning impaired waters to healthy condition. Results increased the awareness of mutual restoration interests among fisheries, mining and water quality agencies and programs at state and federal level and led to new funding in some high-ranking watersheds.

    Go to A Rapid Screening Assessment of Brook Trout Recovery Potential in Mining-Impacted Middle Atlantic Region Watersheds (PDF)  (6 pp, 1.08 MB)

  • Comparing the Restorability of Illinois Impaired Waters: A Recovery Potential Pilot Study.This 2005 demonstration, which was the first RPS state-level project, explored the feasibility of measuring over 100 indicators relevant to watershed condition and restorability. It focused on several hundred impaired waters statewide and evaluated several different types of multi-metric indices for comparing and contrasting watershed conditions with attention to management prospects.

    Go to Comparing the Restorability of Illinois Impaired Waters: A Recovery Potential Pilot Study (PDF) (9 pp, 1.37 MB)  

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