United States Environmental
                                  Protection Agency
                            Office of Water
                      March 1992
                                    • An EPA Bulletin on Integrated Aquatic Ecosystem Protection*

EPA's 1992 Agency Operating
Guidance (AOG), issued in April
1991, promises significant activity
within watersheds chosen for
attention by EPA Regions. The
AOG states:
  In FY92, (EPA) will focus actual
  protection and restoration
  activities in specific watersheds
  that were identified in 1991.
  The criteria for evaluating  .
  and selecting watersheds will
  include: human health and
  ecological risk; possibility of
  additional environmental
  Continued page 4-Guidance

 Watershed Events Is Intended to
 update Interested parties on the
 development anduseof watershed
 protection  approaches  tot
 Improving  the environmental
 quality of aquatic eco-systems.

 are Integrated and holistic.  That
 Is,  they consider the primary
 threats to human and ecosystem
 health  within  the watershed,
 Involve those people  most
 concerned or able to take actions
 to solve those problems,and'then
 take  corrective actions: In a
 comprehensive manner.
 ^ Printed on Recycled Paper

In mid-February, Bob Wayland,
Director of the Office of Wetlands,
Oceans and Watersheds, along with
Dave Davis, Deputy Director, and
Louise Wise, Director of Policy and
Communications staff met with
several representatives of state and
local government associations to
discuss EPA's work to support
watershed protection efforts around
the country. Here are some of the
questions raised along with
OWOW's response.

What is the relationship of EPA
watershed protection projects to multi-
jurisdictional, multipurpose agencies,
e.g. regional councils, across the
A key element of the watershed
protection approach as envisioned
by EPA is stakeholder involvement
We define stakeholders broadly as  .
those people and organizations with
an interest in the watershed and
some capacity to take action. The
complement of "stakeholders"
involved may vary from watershed
to watershed, but is likely to include
representatives of the regulated
community, local, state, regional, and
federal governments, public and
private institutions, and environ-
mental and other special interest
groups.  Particularly in watersheds
that cross state boundaries, we
would hope that regional authorities
would be involved in watershed
protection projects.

What do we really mean by
"integrated, holistic approach?" Are
we focusing on results, or, rather,
concentrating on how we deliver
program management?
The primary thrust of EPA's water-
shed protection approach is to align
existing  water quality management
programs, for which we have major
responsibilities, so that they support
integrated watershed-based plan-
ning, implementation, and monitor-
ing to complement state, local, and
citizen efforts, and take advantage of
the strengths of each participating
entity. At the same time, our efforts
to date have shown that problems
and opportunities that may have
been obscured by our focus on
particular pollutants or pollution
sources become obvious when we
begin by asking, "What is affecting
this watershed? Can the resource
and stressors be managed differ-
ently?" More simply put, the
approach attempts to honor the
interconnectedness of aquatic
systems  by managing human impact
on those systems in an integrated,
holistic fashion.
Continued page 3-Concerns

 Page 2
          Watershed Events
                                                                                           March 1992

 Water Quality 2000, a consortium of
 more than 80 public, private, and
 nonprofit organizations dedicated to
 improving our nation's water quality
 programs, found that narrowly
 focused policies have impeded our
 progress. Recent Water Quality 2000
 reports challenge us to adopt a
 watershed approach broadly, stating
 that it "provides the framework to
 evaluate a natural resource problem
 using a natural systems approach. It
 is well suited to track holistic cause-
 and-effect water quality relationships
 since it can link upstream uses with
 downstream effects. Without
 understanding these relationships, it
 is difficult to assess current or
 potential conditions or to remediate
 cumulative environmental

 In addition, at the winter meeting of
 the National Governors' Association,
 the nation's governors adopted a
 new policy for a systematic approach
 to water resource management
They state:
  Historically this nation has
  approached water resources as
  isolated and categorical, with
  programs designed specifically
  for certain waters depending
  upon where they are found.
  Now we know flhat our water
  resources are part of an interre-
  lated hydrologic and environ-
  mental system that demands
  systematic management. The
  Governors believe the future
  demands a new model for
  managing water resources,
  based on well-defined geo-
 ' graphic units such as basins or
  watersheds, that recognizes all
  the interconnections within the
  watershed that define the
 hydrologic cycle in that area,
 including surface and
   groundwaters as well as wet-
   lands. The management of any
   watershed should reflect all of
   the things that make it unique,
   including specific precipitation
   patterns, topography, soil and
   geological characteristics, and
   land use...
     There are few, if any, signifi-
   cant scientific barriers to the
   transition from our current
   collection of categorical pro-
   grams to  this kind of compre-
   hensive, systems-based ap-
   proach to water resource man-
   agement. However, the Gover-
   nors recognize that there are
   significant institutional ob-
   stacles, and that the new model
   needs to be developed in an
   evolutionary fashion. It will
   require unprecedented coopera-
   tipn among many state and local
   entities, among state and federal
   agencies, and between states in
   the case of watersheds crossing
   state lines.


 Plans for the United Nations
 Conference on Environment and
 Development (UNCED), to be held
 this June in Brazil, are taking shape.
 At this conference, representatives
 from around the world will consider
 "Agenda 21," perhaps best described
 as a worldwide strategic'plan for
 environmental protection. Recent
 drafts of Agenda 21 recognize water
 as both a natural resource and
 economic good and call for
 "dynamic, interactive, iterative, and
 multisectoral approaches" to water
 resource management.

 In January 1992, experts from 113
countries attended the International
Conference on Water and the
Environment in Dublin, Ireland.
Lajuana Wilcher, Assistant Adminis-
trator for Water at EPA, represented
  the United States and served as
  rapporteur for the subgroup consid-
  ering protection of water resources,
  water quality and aquatic ecosys-
  tems. The group concluded that, due
  to their interconnected nature, fresh
  water systems require management
  approaches that are "holistic rather
  than piece-meal, systematically
  based rather than micro-managed,
  and based on a balanced consider-
  ation of the total needs of people and
  the environment." The group's
  recommendations will be put
•  forward at the UNCED meeting in


   The Watershed Branch, Office of
  Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds,
  has established a 'TMDL SWAT
  team" to provide expert advice on
  Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)
  analyses in watersheds. Limited
  financial support also is available for
  TMDL development.
   Section 303(d) of the Clean Water
  Act establishes the TMDL process to
  provide for more stringent water-
  quality based controls when technol-
  ogy-based controls are inadequate to
  meet State water quality standards.
  In April 1991, EPA issued Guidance-
  for Water Quality-based Decisions:
 The TMDL Process. The guidance
 suggests mechanisms for integrating
 the management of point and
 nonpoint poEution, and considering.
 multiple sources, habitat, and other
 watershed  issues. Workshops on the
 TMDL process, with State and
 Regional water quality managers in
 attendance, were recently completed
 in all ten EPA regions. For more
 information contact the Regional
 TMDL coordinator, Bruce Newton
 (202 260-7074) or Don Brady (202-

 March 1992
                                             Watershed Events

Watershed Protection Headquarters
Support Team
A team with representatives from all
four EPA Office of Water offices has
been convened to serve the Regions,
states, local, and nongovernmental
entities pursuing watershed protec-
tion approaches.  Four subgroups
will tackle different aspects of the
work ahead. The subgroups are:
  Operational Program Integra-
  tion Subgroup—to eliminate
  barriers and identify actions to
  be taken to promote and support
  watershed programs within
  EPA, State, and interstate
  agencies. For more information,
  contact Jim Home (202 260-
  Partnership Development and
  Outreach Subgroup —to open,
  improve, and maintain commu-
  nication with potential stake-
  holders, including other Federal
 agencies, State and local govern-
 ments, and nongovernmental
 organizations.  For more infor-
 mation, contact Glenn Eugster
  (202 260-6045) or Janet
 Pawlukiewicz (202 260-9194)
 Regional Implementation
 Subgroup—To maintain com-
 munication with EPA Regions,.
 to support development of
 Regional frameworks and
 projects; to analyze individual
 projects in terms of what actions
 HQ needs to take to support
 projects. For more information
 contact John Pai (202 260-8076)
 Technical Support Subgrbup-r-
.to develop tools arui provide  : .r
 training and support on existing
 tOOlS tO °—'-—- • ^iCi-Ci'S.S:!s-.i' •" v. ••-•
other m^rested orgaini^^ns^: i
For more information contact
Elizabeth Jester {202 26^7074) or
Bruce Newton; (202 260-7074).  ;
  CONCERNS-from page 1

  Is EPA advocating a "bottom up" or
  "top down" approach to watershed
  We're pursuing both. For example,
  the National Estuary Program (NEP)
  works to protect estuaries of national
  significance. Although dependent
  on grass roots support^eading to a
  Governor's nomination of an estu-
  ary, an official designation by the
  EPA administrator is required to
  convene a NEP management confer-
  ence. On the other hand, many of
  the EPA Regional offices have
  become more and more involved
  with grass roots efforts that aim  to
  protect small, local watersheds.  In
 different watershed projects, EPA's
 role may .vary considerably from
 convenor or coordinator to approver,
 promoter, supporter, or
 implementor. Put another way,  in
 some cases EPA may be a very active
 participant—in others EPA may
 have no direct role at all.

 Watersheds can  vary in size from a
 small, local creek and environs to  a
 major portion of the "lower forty-
 eight" (the Mississippi River
 watershed). On  what scale is EPA
 promoting this approach?
 Once again, we are interested in
 variety—large and small watersheds
 and everything in between. Cur-
 rently, EPA coordinates several
 programs to protect huge water
 bodies—the Chesapeake Bay Pro-
 gram, the Great Lakes program and
 the Gulf of Mexico program. At the
 same time, the Puget Sound NEP has
 targeted six sub-watershed projects
 within its scope, each of which is
 dealing with specific problems most
 relevant to those parts of the larger
 system. Clearly in some cases, an
individual small creek, lake, or
wetland may be the focus—the
critical criterion is not size but the
 ability to coalesce interest and
 resources around a particular aquatic

 Many areas have initiated river
 corridor management planning
 processes under a variety of names.
 How does the Watershed Protection
 Approach relate to these activities?
 River corridor management plans
 are an excellent example of the
 approach that EPA is promoting.
 These plans combine all the key
 elements of the watershed
 approach—a landscape focus at the
 watershed level, an integrated
 "holistic" approach to natural
resources and water quality
management, and strong
stakeholder involvement.
 Organizations Met with to Discuss the
   Watershed Protection Approach
 Association of State and Interstate Wate
     Pollution Control Administrators
  Association of Metropolitan Sewerage
    Association of State Floodplain
              Managers    .   .
 Association of State Wetland Managers
     Coastal States Organization
  International Association of Fish ar.d
          Wildlife Agencies
   Interstate Council on Water Policy
   National Association of Attorneys
   National Association of Regional
     National Association of State
       Conservation Agencies
     National Association of State
     Departments of Agriculture
 National Association of State Foresters
  National Association of Towns and
    National Conference of State
   National Governor's Association

 Page 4
        Watershed Events
                                                                                           March 1992
 GUIDANCE-from pag« 1

  degradation; likelihood of
  achieving demonstrable envi-
  ronmental results;
  implementability; extent of
  alliances with other Federal
  agencies and States to coordi-
  nate resources and actions; value
  of the watershed to the public;
  resource needs; and use of
  existing or development of new
  information—Programs in these
  targeted areas will emphasize
  integrating traditional control
  technologies such as water
  quality standards, permits, and
  enforcement actions with a
  broader use of nonpoint source
  control and prevention pro-
  grams, the technology informa-
  tion network, education, and
  public outreach. We will also
  encourage States to consider
  geographically targeted high
  priority watersheds in their SRF
'  goals and objectives. Our
  approach will increasingly be
  tailored for individual water-
  sheds to ensure that maximum
  risk reductions and critical
  habitat protectipn occurs.

 This commitment to promote
 integrated activity within targeted
 watersheds is already reflected in
 several of the more program-specific
 guidance documents issued recently.

 NPDES Permit Issuance
  Optimally, the National Pollut-
  ant Discharge Elimination
  System (NPDES) program has a
  permit in effect on the date the
  prior permit expires. Incases
  where States are targeting
  watersheds for comprehensive
  protection efforts, EPA is now
  offering permit reissuance
  flexibility. The Agency Operat-
  ing Guidance allows States that
  consider adopting a five-year
  strategy to reissue no less than
  20% of all permits within the
  State (unless the State has a year
  in which there are less than 20%
  of all permits expired or expir-
  ing). This allows  States, and
  EPA Regions, to align NPDES
  permits within targeted water-
  sheds on a five-year cycle.

Wetlands Program FY92 Grants
  Watershed protection projects
  will receive preferential treat-
  ment in funding decisions for
  the FY92 State Wetlands Grants
  Program. The guidance speci-
  fies that these projects
  "... should have a geographic or
  ecosystem focus, should have a
  substantial wetland component,
  should involve various levels of
  government and the private
  sector...(and) should consider all
  possible environmental protec-
  tion techniques or approaches to
  identify and address the prob-
  lems." The guidance further
  suggests that, "A  watershed
  protection plan or strategy can
  provide a blueprint for effec-
  tively managing wetlands
  resources in a geographic area"
  and requires that, 'These
  projects should include a defini-
  tive implementation strategy or
  action plan which outlines a
  specific implementation sched-
  ule, assigns lead agency or office
  responsibility, assigns responsi-
  bility for carrying out tasks, and
  criteria for measuring success."

Award and Management of Nonpoint
Source Program Implementation
  Watershed projects that are
  designed to directly protect or
  restore specific surface or.
  ground waters are seen as
  essential to the success of the
  national nonpoint source pro-
  gram. This guidance empha-
  sizes that comprehensive water-
  shed projects should be given a
  central role in State program
  implementation efforts. It also
  stipulates that funded water-
  shed protection activities should
  form part of a comprehensive
  approach designed to control all
  of the major nonpoint sources
  affecting water quality through-
  out the watersheds or ground
  water areas being protected.

Near Coastal Waters Program(NCW)
  "The NCW program is intended
  to implement the Watershed
  Protection Approach in coastal
  watersheds."  This statement
  from the recent near coastal
  waters guidance emphasizes the
  close relationship between
  EPA's ongoing coastal  programs
  and watershed protection.  The
  NCW program views the
  watershed approach as a simple;
  yet powerful framework for
  integrating Agency programs,
  focusing management  attention,
  and allocating resources. Within
  the framework of watershed
  protection, the goals of the Near
  Coastal Waters Program are to
  direct and focus EPA's coastal
  activities within priority geo-
  graphic areas, promote linkages .
  among programs,  encourage a
  comprehensive approach to
  problem assessment and man-
  agement, and maximize envi-
  ronmental results. These goals
  are achieved chiefly through
  Regional NCW Strategies and
  are carried out through activities
  described in annual work plans.
   For more Information on the Watershed
      Protection Approach, contact:
          Janet Pawlgkiewicz  .
  Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
         Washington, DC 20460