United States
  Environmental Protection
            National Pollutant Discharge
            Elimination System (NPDES)
            Permitting Implementation

This guidance expresses EPA's support for watershed-based NPDES permitting. Implementation of
watershed-based permitting will be governed by existing requirements of the CWA and EPA's NPDES
implementing regulations. Those CWA provisions and regulations contain legally binding requirements.
This document does not substitute for those provisions or regulations. The recommendations in this
guidance are not binding; the permitting authority may consider other approaches consistent with the
CWA and EPA regulations. When EPA makes a permitting decision, it will make each decision on a
case-by-case basis and will be guided by the applicable requirements of the  CWA and implementing
regulations, taking into account comments and information presented at that time by interested persons
regarding the appropriateness of applying these recommendations to the particular situation. EPA may
change this guidance in the future.

                          TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction and Purpose	1-1
Section One: Overview	1-1
     What Is Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting?	 1-2
     Why Does EPA Encourage Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting?	 1-2
     How Does Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Relate to Other Watershed
          Management Activities?	 1-4
Section Two: Developing and Implementing a Watershed-Based NPDES
      Permitting Approach	2-1
     Step One: Select a Watershed and Determine the Boundaries	 2-2
     Step Two: Identify Stakeholders and Facilitate Their Participation	2-3
     Step Three: Collect and Analyze Data for Permit Development	 2-7
     Step Four: Develop Watershed-Based Permit Conditions
          and Documentation	2-10
     Step Five: Issue Watershed-Based NPDES Permit	2-13
     Step Six: Measure and Report Progress	2-16
Section Three: Potential Benefits and Challenges of Watershed-Based
      NPDES Permitting	3-1
     Benefits of Watershed-Based Permitting	3-1
     Potential Challenges	3-2
Section Four: Moving Ahead In Watershed-Based Permitting	4-1
References	R-1
Appendix A: Watershed Approach  Policy Memorandum and Watershed-Based NPDES
      Permitting Policy Statement	A-1
Appendix B: NPDES Permitting for Environmental Results Strategy	B-1
Appendix C: Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Case Studies	C-1

Page Intentionally Left Blank

                                            Watershed-Based NPDES Implementation Guidance
 Introduction and Purpose
The purpose of this guidance is to describe the concept of and the process for watershed-based permitting
under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program. Watershed-based
NPDES permitting is an approach to developing NPDES permits for multiple point sources located within
a defined geographic area (watershed boundaries) to meet water quality standards. This approach, aimed
at achieving new efficiencies and environmental results, provides a process for considering all stressors
within a hydrologically defined drainage basin or other geographic area, rather than addressing individual
pollutant sources on a discharge-by-discharge basis.

This guidance focuses on defining both the general approach and the process for watershed-based NPDES
permitting. The guidance addresses issues related to program implementation, but it does not provide
detailed technical information or address procedural and administrative actions related to permit issuance.
Those will be covered in future guidance documents. An overview of each section is provided below.

   ^  Section One provides background information on the concept of watershed-based NPDES
      permitting and why U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is encouraging this approach.
   4  Section Two describes EPA's recommended process for watershed-based NPDES permitting. This
      process is presented in six steps.
   ^  Section Three describes the anticipated benefits and challenges associated with taking a watershed-
      based approach to NPDES permitting. Where related case study information is available, EPA has
      included it to illustrate the potential benefits and challenges of watershed-based NPDES permitting.
   *  Section Four looks ahead to the future of watershed-based permitting and provides a series of
      resources and references.

Section One: Overview

For nearly a decade the EPA has supported and encouraged a watershed approach to addressing
water quality problems. Awareness and understanding of this approach has grown over time, but with
demonstrated gaps in implementation. In December 2002 the EPA Assistant Administrator for Water
issued a policy memorandum entitled "Committing EPA's Water Program to Advancing the Watershed
Approach." This policy memorandum not only reaffirmed EPA's commitment to the watershed approach
but also reenergized efforts to ensure that EPA as a whole fully integrates the watershed approach into
program implementation. The memorandum established an EPA Watershed Management Council (WMC)
to accelerate efforts to develop and issue NPDES permits on a watershed basis.

Following the release of the December 2002 watershed approach policy memorandum, EPA's Office of
Water released the "Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Policy Statement" on January 7, 2003. This
statement communicates EPA's policy on implementing NPDES permitting activities on a watershed
basis, discusses the benefits of watershed-based permitting, presents an explanation of the process and
several mechanisms to implement watershed-based permitting, and outlines how EPA will encourage
watershed-based permitting. It serves as both a formal commitment and a strategy for fully integrating
the watershed approach into the NPDES permitting program and accelerating these efforts, as called
for in the December 2002 watershed approach policy memorandum. Appendix A contains both the
policy memorandum on advancing the watershed approach and the watershed-based permitting policy
statement. These documents are also available on EPA's Web site at
memo.html and

Although the process of watershed-based NPDES permitting involves a number of key players, the
information contained in this implementation guidance targets the state regulatory agencies and EPA
regional offices that serve as NPDES permitting authorities. The NPDES permitting authorities will need
to move the process from concept to implementation. The watershed-based NPDES  permitting process
also requires the support of the regulated community. Point source dischargers in a watershed will play
an active role in the process, assisting NPDES permitting authorities with collecting the information
needed to calculate effluent limits and to select the appropriate type of watershed-based permit. The data
collection that is an integral part of the watershed-based NPDES permitting process  might also provide
data for other programs (e.g., statewide monitoring and assessment programs). Data collection will be
a cooperative activity shared by the NPDES permitting authority and the permittees. This guidance
discusses some of these coordination and integration issues. It will help point source dischargers
understand the process and the role that they can play in the permit program and other water quality
programs. Other stakeholders, such as watershed organizations, residents of the watershed community,
and entities that contribute nonpoint source pollution are important to the success of the watershed-based
permitting process and might also find this implementation guidance useful.

What Is Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting?
As stated above, watershed-based NPDES permitting is an approach to developing NPDES permits for
multiple point sources within a defined geographic area (watershed boundaries). The primary difference
between this approach and the current approach to permitting is the consideration of watershed goals
and the impact of multiple pollutant  sources and stressors, including nonpoint source contributions.
Watershed-based permitting may encompass a variety of activities ranging from synchronizing permits
within a basin to developing water quality-based effluent limits using a multiple-discharger modeling
analysis. The types of permitting activities will vary from watershed to watershed, depending on the
unique circumstances in the watershed and the sources affecting watershed conditions. The ultimate goal
of watershed-based NPDES permitting, however, is to develop and issue NPDES permits that consider
the conditions of the entire watershed and address the diverse sources within the watershed, not just an
individual point source discharger.

Why Does EPA Encourage Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting?
Although significant water quality improvements have been made during the past three decades, water
quality problems remain. Many of the remaining problems involve complex mixtures of sources and
impacts that require integrated, holistic solutions. According to the 2000 Clean Water Act section 305(b)
analysis of the nation's waters, 39 percent of assessed rivers and streams, 51 percent of assessed estuarine
square miles, and 46 percent of assessed lake, pond, and reservoir acres (not including the Great Lakes)
do not fully support water quality standards. That analysis identifies point source discharges as one of
several leading sources of impairment in assessed lakes, rivers, and coastal resources (USEPA 2002d).

Over the past decade, the number of sources subject to the NPDES program has increased almost tenfold.
Given this national picture, there is a pressing need for innovative and efficient solutions to permitting
these point sources that will result in further water quality gains. As a mechanism to help integrate
other water program activities and to target the most pressing environmental issues within a watershed,
a watershed-based approach to NPDES permitting can serve as one innovative tool for achieving new
efficiencies and environmental progress. Section Three of this guidance discusses some of these potential
benefits, as well as the challenges of watershed-based permitting,  in greater detail.

Watershed-based permitting is a key tool under EPA's NPDES Permitting for Environmental Results
Strategy (the Strategy), issued by the EPA Assistant Administrator for Water on August 15, 2003. As
stated in the Strategy, it is "an important element in an overall plan to meet the watershed restoration

                                             Watershed-Based NPDES Implementation Guidance
goals established in EPA's Strategic Plan." The overarching goal of the Strategy is "to more efficiently
and effectively manage the NPDES permit program with an increased environmental focus" (USEPA
2003c). The Strategy contains the following primary components:

   4  Program Results: NPDES Permit Prioritization
   ^  Program Efficiency: NPDES Permit Streamlining
   ^  Program Integrity

Each component of the Strategy contains specific goals and detailed descriptions of tools to meet those
goals. Under Program Efficiency, the Strategy lists several tools related to watershed-based permitting,
demonstrating EPA's belief that this approach to developing and issuing NPDES permits can benefit
watershed stakeholders through increased environmental results and administrative efficiencies.
Appendix B contains the Strategy, which is also available on EPA's Web site at

Not only is watershed-based permitting a potential tool for generating process efficiencies, but also
for generating much needed cost efficiencies. Recent EPA reports related to the cost of clean water
have found a significant disparity between the projected need and the current spending on capital costs
and operation and maintenance of clean water and drinking water infrastructure. To address this gap
in funding, EPA has  developed a strategy intended to promote (1) better infrastructure management,
(2) more efficient water use, (3) full cost pricing for revenue and conservation, and (4) watershed-based
approaches to infrastructure planning. Watershed-based permitting, as well as other programs with a
watershed-focus, have the potential to affect local planning decisions and improve coordination in terms
of making investments in clean water and drinking water infrastructure.

EPA's Office of Water has researched and supported development of the watershed-based NPDES
permitting approach throughout the past decade. The 1994 NPDES Watershed Strategy reflects EPA's
earliest support, with continued backing for the approach through the Watershed Framework (1996),
Effluent Trading in Watersheds Policy (1996), Draft Framework for Watershed-Based Trading (1996), and
Water Quality Trading Policy (2003). As stated in the 1994 NPDES Watershed Strategy, "The NPDES
program occupies a unique position within the overall water program, since it is both a key customer and
an essential partner in supporting other  Office of Water program activities and achieving many of our
broader water quality goals."

In an effort to move  from concept to implementation, EPA is undertaking a number of activities related
to researching and analyzing past and current watershed-based NPDES permitting efforts. Experience
in watershed-based NPDES permitting  is growing through the efforts of some NPDES permitting
authorities and watershed organizations. Highlights of existing watershed-based NPDES permits and
other related activities (e.g., permit synchronization, statewide basin management) appear throughout this
implementation guidance to provide real-world examples of how the watershed-based NPDES permitting
concept and process can translate into practice. Appendix C contains case studies of some existing
watershed-based permitting activities, which are also available on EPA's Web site at
npdes/wqbasedpermitting/wspermitting.cfm. These case studies provide an overview of the watershed,
including water quality issues and pollutant sources affecting the watershed. They describe the NPDES
permitting issues faced by permitting authorities and the point sources within the watershed, as well as
the innovative permitting approach taken to achieve greater environmental results with more efficient use
of resources. Many of the lessons learned from previous research, past and ongoing projects, and general
watershed management activities provide  a basis for this guidance.

                  Examples of Driving Factors for Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting

     Not every watershed will take the same approach to watershed-based permitting; therefore not every approach will
     produce the same results. In some watersheds, the final outcome might be a new permit with new limits. In others,
     the result might be a watershed study to generate new data for site-specific water quality standards. Presented below
     are a variety of factors that may influence or drive watershed-based permitting.

     Long Island Sound (CT): A watershed-based general permit for 79 publicly owned treatment works (POTWs)
     resulted from the creation of a nitrogen credit exchange program established to achieve a total nitrogen reduction
     goal in the Sound's watershed management plan.

     Rahr Malting Company (MN): The individual permit contains a water quality-based effluent limitation for
     biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) driven by a TMDL. It includes provisions allowing the point source to
     trade impacts of an increase in its discharge from plant expansion for reductions in nonpoint sources of pollution

     South Platte River (CO): Potential changes to the state's selenium water quality standard catalyzed affected point
     sources to initiate a cooperative data collection effort that will result in site-specific selenium criteria. These criteria
     will influence permit renewals for several dischargers.

     Neuse River Compliance Association (NC): Long-term nutrient impacts led to the development of the Neuse
     River Basin Nutrient Sensitive Waters (NSW) Management Strategy, which establishes specific nutrient control
     requirements for point source dischargers in the basin. The strategy allows dischargers to form a group compliance
     association that can work together to meet their combined total nitrogen allocation.
How Does Watershed-Based  NPDES Permitting Relate to Other Watershed
Management Activities?
Understanding the concept and process of watershed-based NPDES permitting requires an understanding
of the factors that can influence, and even drive, this approach. All watersheds are influenced by a wide
array of management activities related to various regulations, plans, and programs. These activities
might include local or state watershed management planning, Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)
development and implementation, water quality trading, water quality standards modification through the
triennial review process, and source water protection planning for drinking water supplies. In some cases,
a basic interest among point sources in using a more efficient, cost-effective permitting approach will act
as a catalyst for watershed-based NPDES permitting.

Ideally, watershed-based NPDES permitting should be integrated with other existing policies, programs,
and permitting processes that influence overall watershed conditions.  The National Research Council's
1999 report New Strategies for America's Watersheds looked at integration among surface, ground,
and drinking water programs, as well  as the various agencies that administer them. The findings of that
report identified integration as a gap in existing watershed management efforts. A truly comprehensive
watershed management approach should bring together key programs under the Clean Water Act, such as
the  NPDES Program, the TMDL Program, the Section 319 Nonpoint Source Program, and Section 404
Wetlands Permitting, as well as the Source Water Assessment Program under the Safe Drinking Water
Act. Watershed-based NPDES permitting can be another tool to facilitate comprehensive programmatic
integration at a watershed level and ensure that permitting activities tie into existing watershed
management efforts. Below are brief descriptions of how watershed-based NPDES permitting can link to
other programs and activities that influence watershed management.

Statewide Rotating Basin Planning Approach
The desire to better coordinate federally delegated programs under the Clean Water Act has led several
states to develop and implement a statewide rotating basin planning approach. Under this approach,

                                                   Watershed-Based NPDES Implementation Guidance
            Permitting According to the 5-Year Plan: State Examples of Permit Synchronization

     Michigan: Basinwide permit reissuance is a key element of Michigan's NPDES permit backlog elimination plan.
     Established in 1983, this 5-year approach allows the state to reissue approximately 20 percent of NPDES permits
     each year. Benefits of this approach include coordination with NPDES support activities such as monitoring and
     inspections. Though this approach works well for reissuing individual permits, the rotating basin approach is
     challenging for the reissuance of general  permits (MDEQ 2002).

     North Carolina: The state established a statewide watershed management approach as a way to streamline NPDES
     permitting and integrate permit reissuance with water quality modeling at a watershed level. By 1998 the 17 river
     basins in the state had basin plans in place using a 5-year development process. During the 5-year period the state
     coordinates activities such as monitoring, modeling, TMDL development, nonpoint source planning, and NPDES
     permit limit development (USEPA 2002a).

     Ohio: Permitting was based on priority until 1990, when the state made this activity a part of the 5-year rotating
     basin plan. In doing so, the state synchronized permitting with basin monitoring activities. This allowed the state
     to use basin monitoring data and comprehensive water quality reports when developing new permits. Basinwide
     synchronization is now carrying over to TMDL development: the state is attempting to develop TMDLs for all listed
     segments in a watershed at the same time (USEPA 2002a).

     Washington: Recommendations of a Washington State legislature "efficiency commission" contributed to the
     development of Washington's statewide watershed framework. The state stresses that statewide coverage is ensured
     by scheduling water quality management areas, not prioritizing them. Permitting occurs during the implementation
     phase in the last year of the 5-year process. One of the lessons learned through this approach is "targeting issues for
     treatment each cycle provides focus" (Ecology 2003).
the applicable state agency delineates the watershed boundaries in the state and groups the watersheds
into basin management units. After delineating the basin management units, states then implement a
watershed management process according to a statewide rotating schedule. The process, which varies
from state to state, usually comprises five activities: (1) data collection and monitoring, (2) assessment,
(3) strategy development, (4) basin plan review, and
(5) implementation (USEPA 2002a).
States stagger this process on a rotating basis, usually
on a 5-year cycle. During the first year, step 1 takes
place in a particular basin management unit. In the
second year, step 2 takes place in the initial basin and
step 1 takes place in another basin, and so on. This
statewide rotating basin planning approach could
generate the data required to inform the watershed-
based NPDES permitting approach. States that use
this approach are more likely to have stakeholders that
are aware of watershed concepts and feel comfortable
with the idea of developing and implementing a
permitting approach for their basin management
unit. A statewide rotating basin planning approach
can serve as a strong foundation for watershed-based
permitting activities.

Permit Synchronization
States have recognized the benefits of administering
programs using a systematic approach based on
         The 303(d) List and TMDLs

It Starts with Standards ...

Every waterbody has a set of water quality goals
known as water quality standards. These standards,
developed by states, identify the uses for each
waterbody and the scientific criteria to protect that use.
Impairment Leads to Listing ...

Waters that do not meet water quality standards are
considered impaired. Section  303 of the CWA requires
states to include impaired waters on a list referred to
as the 303(d) list. States must develop TMDLs for
impaired waters on the 303(d) list.

Allocations Are Met to Attain Standards ...

A TMDL is a calculation of the maximum amount of
a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still meet
water quality standards. Once the state calculates that
maximum amount, smaller pieces of the TMDL pie
(allocations) are allotted to pollutant sources. Both
regulatory and voluntary actions by point and nonpoint
sources are necessary to successfully implement a
TMDL and achieve water quality standards.

defined basin management units, as described under the statewide rotating basin planning approach, and
have applied this approach to synchronize the issuance of NPDES permits. Synchronized permit issuance
can lead to improved technical analysis and, therefore, more equitable NPDES permits. In addition,
permit synchronization can result in administrative efficiencies, such as less travel time for monitoring
and inspections (USEPA 2002a). Although permit synchronization on a basinwide basis does not ensure
that permit limits will take watershed conditions into consideration, it is a significant watershed-based
NPDES permitting activity that many states already implement. With this activity in place, states have
a strong foundation for moving to watershed-based NPDES permit limits and other watershed-based
permitting efforts.

Watershed Management Planning
Watershed management planning is an iterative process of goal-setting, data collection and analysis,
problem identification, strategy development and implementation, and  evaluation. This process, with
meaningful stakeholder participation, is often the overarching management tool  for achieving watershed
goals. The watershed-based NPDES permitting approach can advance the goals  established in a watershed
management plan by providing a mechanism for coordinating control activities and data collection
activities. In addition, it can provide a vehicle for public participation or for communication of the goals
of the watershed management plan.

Not every watershed has a management plan that coordinates existing activities  and information. In the
absence of an existing watershed management plan, the watershed-based NPDES permitting process can
initiate a broader dialogue about watershed goals, data needs, and possible pollutant control  strategies.
Developing permits provides a single mechanism for gathering much of the data necessary for watershed
                                            What's the Point?
      Pollutants can enter waters of the United States from a variety of pathways, including agricultural, domestic, and
      industrial sources. For regulatory purposes these sources are generally categorized as point sources or nonpoint
      Point Sources
      A point source means any discernable, confined, and descrete conveyance, including but not limited to, any pipe,
      ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, container, rolling stock, concentrated animal feeding operation,
      landfill leachate collection system, vessel or other floating craft from which pollutants are or may be discharged. The
      term does not include return flows from irrigated agriculture or agricultural storm water runoff.
      Nonpoint Sources
      Nonpoint source pollution, unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, comes from many
      diffuse sources. It is  caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground, picking up pollutants
      and depositing them into nearby receiving waters. These sources can include agricultural lands, residential areas,
      forestlands, and construction sites less than one acre. In general, nonpoint sources are sources of runoff not
      addressed under the NPDES Program.

      Distinguishing Between Point and Nonpoint Sources
      Construction sites and municipalities with separate storm sewer systems are often regulated as point sources. Under
      the NPDES Storm Water Program, storm water runoff from construction activities disturbing more than 1 acre
      of land must have NPDES permit coverage. This same program requires NPDES permit coverage for municipal
      separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) in Urbanized Areas, including universities and federal facilities. When sources
      of runoff such as construction sites and MS4s do not fall under the NPDES regulations, they can be addressed as
      nonpoint sources of pollution.
      For more information on point sources, see EPA's Water Permitting 101 document on EPA's NPDES Program Web
      site at For more information on nonpoint sources, visit Consult with
      NPDES permitting authorities for state-specific information on point and nonpoint sources categorizations.

                                            Watershed-Based NPDES Implementation Guidance
plans. As stakeholders gather and analyze the data necessary to develop the watershed-based NPDES
permit, portions of the watershed management plan will begin to take shape and additional stakeholders
might join the process.

Total Maximum Daily Load Development and  Implementation
Watershed-based NPDES permitting, TMDL development and implementation, and watershed
management planning can and should be tightly linked. Water quality impairments that lead to 303(d)
listings and TMDL development often drive watershed management planning. Many of the actions
necessary for a successful TMDL are also needed for a successful watershed approach. Therefore,
common data needs between the TMDL approach and the watershed approach should be considered in
watershed plans and reflected in NPDES permits developed at the watershed level.

Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program
One of the most challenging aspects of watershed management is effectively reducing nonpoint sources
of pollution. Nonpoint source pollution is runoff from diffuse sources that picks up pollutants as it moves
over and through land and deposits them in receiving waters.  (See text box entitled "What's the Point?"
for clarification of the differences between point and nonpoint sources of pollution.) Point sources in a
watershed are issued federally required NPDES permits to regulate effluent discharges, but this type of
federal regulatory mechanism does not exist for nonpoint sources. Nonpoint sources are managed largely
through voluntary programs, although some states and local governments have regulatory mechanisms for
some nonpoint source activities. Funding for best management practices to control nonpoint source runoff
often provides an incentive for nonpoint sources to actively engage in watershed management. Given the
impact nonpoint sources can have on a watershed, and the typically voluntary nature of nonpoint source
management, it is imperative that stakeholders representing nonpoint source issues and interests actively
participate in watershed management activities from the outset.

Each year EPA allocates funds to states with approved Nonpoint Source Assessment Reports and Nonpoint
Source Management Programs under section 319(h) of the  Clean Water Act. States can use these funds to
implement programs and projects designed to reduce nonpoint source runoff, including nonpoint source
TMDLs, ground water protection activities, and abandoned mine land reclamation projects. EPA's recently
published guidelines for section 319 grant funds require that watershed-based plans for impaired waters
include specific information that will "help provide assurance that the nonpoint source load allocations
identified in the nonpoint source TMDL (and/or anticipated in NPDES permits for the watershed) will
be achieved" (USEPA 2003b). According to those guidelines, watershed-based plans funded through
section 319 grants must include information on causes and sources of nonpoint source pollution in
the watershed, an estimated load reduction expected for nonpoint source management measures and a
description of the management measures, an implementation schedule, measurable milestones for gauging
success, estimates of financial and technical assistance, and an education component to encourage public
participation (USEPA 2003b). EPA also encourages integration with other environmental programs, such
as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), to support the
implementation of watershed-based plans developed using  section 319 grants.

No matter how stringent permit requirements are for point sources, conditions  in some watersheds will
simply not improve without reductions in nonpoint source pollutant contributions. Funding provided
through the section 319 grant program (and other associated funding programs such as Farm Bill
programs for agricultural nonpoint sources) can play a significant role in achieving necessary nonpoint
source pollutant reductions. The guidelines under the section  319 grant program can play a key role in
watershed-based permitting. They provide an added incentive for nonpoint sources to participate in the

process: the information generated through the watershed-based permitting process will help section 319
grantees develop watershed-based plans that fulfill the section 319 grant requirements.

Water Quality Trading
EPA's Water Quality Trading Policy encourages the use of voluntary trading programs to achieve water
quality improvements at reduced costs on a watershed basis. EPA's policy advances the view that water
quality trading, as a market-based approach,  increases flexibility to meet water quality goals while
increasing efficiencies (USEPA 2003e). The policy recognizes the connections between water quality
trading and the NPDES Program, as well as other Clean Water Act requirements. According to the policy,
"Provisions for water quality trading should be aligned with and incorporated into core water quality
programs ... by incorporating provisions for trading into TMDLs and NPDES permits" (USEPA 2003e).

The development of watershed-based permitting approaches might catalyze the development of water
quality trades. To facilitate water quality trading, it is necessary to quantify tradable units such as
pollutant loads and load reductions. States can then develop procedures for using tradable credits in
NPDES permits. EPA identifies several flexible approaches for incorporating provisions for trading
into NPDES permits, including the "use of watershed general permits, where appropriate, to establish
pollutant-specific limitations for a group of sources in the same or similar categories to achieve net
pollutant reductions or water quality goals" (USEPA 2003e). The use of watershed general  permits is
discussed later in this document. Sources that have initiated trades may also consider the development and
implementation of watershed-based permitting approaches, given the close connections in both data and
process. In some cases watershed-based NPDES permit development might lead to the creation of a water
quality trading program.

Source Water Protection Planning
Through the Source Water Assessment and Protection (SWAP) Program under the Safe Drinking Water
Act, states are conducting assessments of the existing and potential threats to public water supplies by
delineating source water protection areas (also referred to as protection zones), conducting  contaminant
source inventories, and determining the  susceptibility of the public water supply to contamination from
the inventoried sources. Operators of public water systems and other stakeholders  involved in source
water protection efforts can then take this information and develop source water protection  strategies, in
which watershed-based NPDES permitting can play a role. NPDES permitting authorities consider the
proximity of point sources to surface water intake structures when developing permit limits. For example,
to decrease risk, permit writers might generate more stringent permit limits for the point sources in the
source water protection zone closest to the surface water intake structures than for those in  the protection
zone farthest from the intake structures.

                                              Watershed-Based NPDES Implementation Guidance
Section Two: Developing  and Implementing a Watershed-Based
NPDES  Permitting Approach
This document serves as a road map for those
interested in taking a watershed-based approach to
NPDES permitting. Gauging the interest and support
of all potential participants-specifically permittees
and the permitting authority-is crucial early in the
process. The basic components of a watershed-based
permit and many of the key steps in the watershed-
based permitting approach are similar to those for
individual NPDES permits, but the permit takes into
account the entire watershed and all its sources rather
than individual point sources. Much of the process is
similar to what is involved in developing a TMDL for
a waterbody.

Because the term watershed approach refers to a
process that is unique and site-specific, NPDES
permits developed using a watershed approach will
not look the same in any two watersheds. Given the
need for customization at the watershed level, this
section presents  a general process for developing
NPDES permits  that permitting authorities, point
source dischargers, and other key stakeholders can
use as a starting  point. EPA intends for stakeholders to
tailor this process as appropriate  to fit the needs  and
circumstances in a specific watershed.
           What Is a Watershed?

A watershed is a geographic area in which water,
sediments, and dissolved materials drain to a common
outlet such as a point on a larger stream, a lake, an
underlying aquifer, an estuary, or an ocean. Watershed
boundaries can transcend local, state, and national
political boundaries.

The U.S. Geological Survey delineates watersheds
in the United States using a nationwide system
based on surface hydrologic features. This system
divides the country into 21 regions, 222 subregions,
352 accounting units, and 2,262 cataloging units. These
hydrologic units are arranged within each other, from
the smallest (cataloging units) to the largest (regions).
The U.S. Geological Survey identifies each hydrologic
unit by a unique hydrologic unit code (HUC) consisting
of 2 to 8 digits based on the four levels of classification
in the hydrologic unit system.

Regions contain either the drainage area of a major
river, such as the Missouri region, or the combined
drainage areas of a series of rivers, such as the Texas-
Gulf region, which includes a number of rivers that
drain into the Gulf of Mexico. The Missouri region
(2-digit HUC 10) covers more than 500,000 square
miles and all or parts of 10 states and numerous
tribal reservations. An example of a subbasin within
the Missouri region is the Lower Yellowstone River
subbasin in Montana and North Dakota (8-digit HUC
10100004). This subbasin covers 5,416.8 square miles.
The remainder of this document makes the
assumption that watershed-based permitting is
happening throughout a state on a select case-by-case
basis, rather than on a statewide level, either in state-defined basin management units or in locally defined
watersheds. EPA's suggested process for developing and implementing a watershed-based NPDES
permitting approach consists of the following six steps:

            Step One  -  Select a Watershed and Determine the Boundaries
            Step Two  -  Identify Stakeholders and Facilitate Their Participation
           Step Three  -  Collect and Analyze Data for Permit Development
           Step Four  -  Develop Watershed-Based Permit Conditions and Documentation
            Step Five  -  Issue Watershed-Based NPDES Permit
             Step Six  -  Measure and Report Progress
Each step is discussed in more detail below. As mentioned earlier, NPDES permitting authorities will
likely initiate and facilitate this process; therefore, the watershed-based permitting process primarily
addresses this audience. However, highlighted text entitled "Where Do I Fit In?" appears throughout the
process description, providing specific information to other stakeholders (e.g., permittees  and watershed
organizations) about the role they can play at certain points in the process.

Developing and Implementing a Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Approach	

Step One:  Select a  Watershed  and Determine the Boundaries
Selecting the geographic boundaries of the watershed is an important first step. The process for
watershed-based NPDES permitting can draw upon the experience of other programs and activities, such
as TMDL development or other activities described in Section One of this document (see "How Does
Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Relate to Other Watershed Management Activities?"). If NPDES
permitting authorities are looking for an appropriate watershed in which to start the watershed-based
permitting process, watersheds with these activities and programs in place might make good candidates.
The list of questions in the box below might also help NPDES permitting authorities determine whether
a particular watershed is appropriate for this approach. Watershed boundaries will influence the scale
and scope of every aspect of the process, particularly stakeholder involvement and data collection.
The physical characteristics of the area  and the jurisdictional limits affect the process for defining the
boundaries of a watershed. The larger the watershed boundaries,  the larger the  scope of complexities
such as multijurisdictional issues, data collection and management, stakeholder involvement, and
funding. Those initiating the process for watershed-based NPDES permitting should keep these factors
in mind when defining watershed boundaries. The watershed should be of a manageable size to allow for
integration and coordination of water quality program activities with the permitting process.

Appropriate boundaries for watershed projects  often depend on site-specific circumstances and the overall
goals of the project. For example,

   4  States that use a watershed management approach for conducting assessments and prioritizing
      actions typically delineate water  resources using hydrologic unit codes,  or HUCs (see text box
      "What is a Watershed?"). The term basin typically refers to watersheds that have 6-digit HUCs and
      subbasin to watersheds that have 8-digit HUCs. These smaller watersheds might be well suited for
                When Considering Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting, Consider This ...

         Does the state regulatory agency manage water resources on a watershed basis?

         Are data available to characterize the pollutant sources and overall condition of the watershed?

         Are point source dischargers in the watershed interested in or currently seeking innovative approaches to
         pollution control?

         Is there a desire on the part of major stakeholders to pursue a watershed approach to achieving watershed goals?

         Is there a watershed management plan in place or under development for the watershed?

         Have watershed stakeholders set local goals for the watershed?

         Does the watershed contain a local watershed organization? If so, does the organization perform key functions
         such as stakeholder education and outreach, monitoring, data management, or water quality modeling?

         Is there a single entity that controls multiple point sources in the watershed?

         Are any of the waters in the watershed impaired and listed on the state's 303(d) list? (Do they require TMDL

         Is there an approved TMDL?

         Are NPDES permits in the watershed scheduled for reissuance in the near future? Do any of the expiration dates
         fall close together?

         Does nonpoint source pollution affect watershed conditions as well as point source discharges?

         Are surface or ground water sources of drinking water located in the watershed? Do any of these sources have, or
         will any have, a source water protection plan?

                                               Watershed-Based NPDES Implementation Guidance
      activities such as synchronizing permitting,
      coordinating permitting with other activities
      such as monitoring, or developing a permit
      that covers multiple sources in the basin or
      Some metropolitan sewer districts have
      organized according to watershed boundaries,
      but these boundaries might include  only the
      portions of HUCs that fall within the district's
      service area boundary. This type of watershed
      delineation, driven by a combination of natural
      and jurisdictional boundaries, reflects how
      project goals can determine the appropriate
      scope of a project.
      Through the Source Water Protection Program,
      states have created rules for delineating
      protection zones for surface water and ground
      water sources. These rules incorporate a
      prioritization scheme based on potential for
      source water contamination within natural
      watershed boundaries. As a result, management
      approaches become more intensive  zone by
      zone based on proximity to drinking water
      sources within the overall watershed boundary.
      Source water protection zones and other source
      water protection considerations can also affect
      the development of permit limits by requiring
      the permitting authority to investigate for
      localized effects and watershed-wide effects in
      relation to source water protection as well as
      other water quality standards.
           WHERE DO I FIT IN?
   Selecting and Determining Watershed

If you are the NPDES Permitting Authority, you
  *   Identify watersheds with existing watershed-
      based programs and efforts to build on.
  *   Provide information to other stakeholders on
      the watershed delineations that the state uses
      to manage water resources.
  *   Present other watershed delineation
      options to participating stakeholders for
  *   Provide guidance to stakeholders on how
      to address and resolve multijurisdictional
If you are a point source, you can
  4   Request that the NPDES permitting authority
      consider watershed-based permitting
  *   Develop options for delineating watershed
  *   Provide information on how the local
      community views the watershed.
  4   Comment on watershed boundary options
      presented by the permitting authority.
If you are a non-NPDES stakeholder, you can
  4   Suggest watershed delineation options.
  *   Share information about existing  watershed
      efforts and the boundaries in which they
As in the examples above, the drivers for watershed-based NPDES permitting can help to establish
watershed boundaries. In some watersheds, TMDL development might serve as the impetus for
watershed-based permitting. In others, comprehensive watershed management planning might emphasize
the necessity for a watershed approach to permitting. The watershed boundaries established through
these projects might serve as a good starting point for determining the most appropriate boundaries for
watershed-based NPDES permitting. As the permitting process moves forward, permitting authorities
might adjust watershed boundaries to reflect the concerns of other stakeholders in the process or a desire
to narrow or broaden the scope of watershed-based permitting activities.

Step Two: Identify  Stakeholders and Facilitate Their Participation
Successful watershed management efforts require identifying and involving the key players, or
stakeholders, that should participate in the process from the outset because they influence and are
affected by watershed decisions. Early and continuous stakeholder involvement can garner stakeholder
participation and support on potentially contentious decisions. Meaningful stakeholder involvement can
produce stakeholders that have ownership over the process and feel empowered. This is important to
guarantee implementation of the outcomes of this potentially resource-intensive stakeholder negotiation

Developing and Implementing a Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Approach
process. Stakeholder involvement is particularly
important in watershed-based permitting, where
sustained voluntary participation of nonpoint sources
might be the key to meeting water quality goals,
regardless of the watershed-based permit limits
reflected in NPDES permits for point sources.

Identifying Stakeholders
For watershed-based NPDES permitting, there are
two categories of stakeholders to consider: NPDES
stakeholders and non-NPDES stakeholders. The
category referred to as NPDES stakeholders includes
those directly involved in the NPDES permitting
process, which in most cases are the NPDES
permitting authority (NPDES program managers and
permit writers from the state environmental regulatory
agency or EPA regional office) and NPDES permittees.
Other NPDES stakeholders might include other state
agency and  EPA regional staff who are working
directly in the watershed and have access to important
data and information (e.g., watershed coordinators,
TMDL program staff, source water protection program

The category referred to as non-NPDES stakeholders
includes other key watershed stakeholders that are not
directly involved in the NPDES permitting process
but that affect, or are affected by, the overall condition
of the watershed. Stakeholders in this category
might include active local watershed organizations,
entities that contribute nonpoint source pollution, and
residents. The NPDES permitting authority and a few
of the point source dischargers most likely will initiate
and facilitate the watershed-based permitting process.

The list of stakeholders that should participate in a
watershed-based permitting process will vary from
watershed to watershed. Identifying and involving
stakeholders is an iterative process. Initially, the
list of both categories of stakeholders should be
comprehensive, representing all interests at the
federal, state,  and local levels. As an understanding of
the watershed, the water quality conditions, and the
sources affecting water quality develops, permitting
authorities will gain a better understanding of who is
interested in actively participating. As a result, the list
of participating stakeholders  might shrink or expand as
the process moves forward.
   Types of Stakeholder Involvement In
   Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting

NPDES Stakeholders
  Who Are They?
  4   NPDES permitting authority
  *   EPA
  4   Other federal partners and land managers
      (e.g., Department of Defense, Bureau of
      Land Management, Department of Energy
      Department of Agriculture, U.S. Geological
  4   Municipalities
  *   POTWs
  4   Industrial facilities
  4   Developers
  *   Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
  *   Other watershed-related staff (e.g., EPA,
      state, and tribal TMDL program staff, state
      and tribal water quality standards staff, state
      and tribal watershed coordinators)
  What Role Do They Play?
  4   Initiate the process
  4   Facilitate the process
  4   Identify other stakeholders
  4   Provide technical direction for the process
  *   Educate non-NPDES stakeholders on
      NPDES issues
  *   Contribute data and information
  4   Provide input on the technical process
Non-NPDES Stakeholders
  Who Are They?
  4   Agricultural interests
  4   Local watershed organizations
  4   Residents
  4   Businesses
  4   Universities
  4   Federal agency partners
  *   State agency partners
  *   Local planning organizations
  4   Local health departments
  4   Local water utilities
  What Role Do They Play?
  4   Contribute data and information
  *   Provide input on the technical process
  *   Educate other watershed stakeholders
  4   Implement additional solutions to control
      other watershed stressors

                                              Watershed-Based NPDES Implementation Guidance
Other important stakeholders can also affect the NPDES permitting process. Nongovernmental
organizations, such as watershed groups and other environmental nonprofit groups, often become
involved in NPDES permitting activities by providing comments on draft permits, conducting water
quality monitoring activities, and educating the public on water quality and wastewater issues. Federal
agencies active in watersheds, such as the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey, are
important partners to involve in the process. Even if these agencies are not NPDES permittees in the
watershed, they might conduct activities important to the overall process, such as data collection, public
education, or land management.

Although stakeholders contributing nonpoint source pollution to the watershed are not directly affected by
the NPDES program, they should be invited to participate in the watershed-based permitting process. This
group may include local farmers, residents, businesses, and schools. In some watersheds, stakeholders
typically thought of as point sources due to storm water runoff (e.g., municipalities, developers,
universities) might not be required to obtain NPDES permit coverage because of regulatory definitions
(e.g., the municipality falls outside an Urbanized Area or the construction site is less than 1 acre) and
would participate in the process as nonpoint sources. As stated above, the types of nonpoint sources
affecting the watershed will become more clear with additional data and information. If new information
reveals that other stakeholders affect, or are affected by, watershed conditions, they should also be invited
to participate in the process. Stakeholders that contribute nonpoint source pollution to the watershed
might play a critical role in achieving overall loading reductions of pollutants of concern. As stakeholders
in the watershed-based permitting process, they will learn about the  watershed and their impact on water
quality and be able to provide their input on watershed goals. Their involvement increases the chances
for successful voluntary measures for nonpoint source pollutant reductions and for participation in any
trading program in the watershed.

Throughout the process of watershed-based NPDES permitting, each type of stakeholder will play a
specific role and have certain responsibilities. Many of these roles and responsibilities are  not dictated by
whether the stakeholder falls into a specific category, but rather by each stakeholder's area of expertise,
available resources, and jurisdictional authorities. Roles and responsibilities of significant  stakeholders
are defined below.
    . Environmental Protection Agency
EPA's role will include providing technical assistance to the permitting authority, providing educational
background on the permitting process to all stakeholders, providing direction regarding compliance with
the Clean Water Act and other regulatory requirements, developing tools such as additional guidance, and
conducting outreach such as training for permit writers and other stakeholders interested in the process.
EPA will also play an important oversight role where the state agency is the NPDES permitting authority.

NPDES Permitting Authorities
The NPDES permitting authority will play the central role in watershed-based permit development. It
ultimately has the responsibility for leading permit negotiations, including determining the appropriate
type of permit to develop and issue; identifying eligible sources; and setting appropriate permit limits,
monitoring requirements, and other permit conditions. The permitting authority may initiate the
watershed-based permitting process within a particular watershed or may respond to the initiative of one
or more point sources or other stakeholders. In either case, support from the permitting authority for both
the concept of watershed-based permitting and the specific process used to develop the permit is essential.

The permitting authority will need to work closely with EPA to identify and address potential regulatory
challenges and technical issues associated with developing an NPDES permit on a watershed basis. It will
also play the important role of identifying and involving both categories of stakeholders, including those

Developing and Implementing a Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Approach
that contribute nonpoint source pollution, and working with those stakeholders to customize the permit
development process to the specific watershed. Finally, the permitting authority will have the primary role
in defining and measuring the success of the watershed-based permitting effort.

Point Sources
As the stakeholders ultimately responsible for permit implementation, point sources must support the
watershed-based permitting concept and process for it to be successful. Point sources will work with the
NPDES permitting authority to customize the permitting process for the watershed, calculate appropriate
permit limits, and develop other suitable permit requirements (e.g., comprehensive, integrated reporting
and monitoring). In addition, point sources should be encouraged to assist the permitting authority in
identifying other key stakeholders, as well as engaging other point source dischargers in the watershed
that initially elect not to participate.

Point sources currently play an important role in collecting and managing facility-specific data. In
watershed-based permitting, point sources might also decide that collecting and managing watershed-level
data could benefit their involvement in the process.
They should also help the permitting authority define
measures of success for the watershed-based permit.
Monitoring conducted by point sources will help track
progress toward these goals.
            WHERE DO I FIT IN?
  Identifying Stakeholders and Facilitating
            Their Participation
Other Watershed Stakeholders
Other watershed stakeholders, such as active local
watershed organizations, nonpoint sources, state and
local agencies, universities, and residents, will have
a role in educating the permitting authority, EPA, and
point sources about specific local watershed issues
and concerns. Although water quality standards are
the primary goals of NPDES permits, the watershed-
based permitting process can incorporate additional
watershed goals. Other watershed stakeholders might
help set additional goals for the permitting process
(e.g., habitat restoration and improved recreational
opportunities) and provide input on how the process
should be tailored to the specific watershed.

As the permit is developed, these stakeholders
might be a source of important watershed-level
data or might engage in data collection to help fill
any gaps. They might also be called upon to serve
as facilitators, provide technical expertise (such as
modeling), or identify and implement additional non-
NPDES  solutions to help achieve water quality goals.

Facilitating Participation
Although stakeholder participation is listed here
as one of the early steps in this overall process,
it is not a discrete step. Early and continuous
stakeholder involvement is essential  to the success
If you are the NPDES Permitting Authority, you
  *   Generate a list of potential stakeholders
      within the watershed and convene a new
  *   Identify existing watershed organizations
      and ask to attend their meetings to recruit
      stakeholders or educate stakeholders on
      watershed-based permitting.
  4   Identify representatives from stakeholder
      groups and request assistance in identifying
      other stakeholders.
If you are a point source, you can
  4   Identify other stakeholders that might have an
      interest in participating in watershed-based
  *   Lead the effort to initiate a group of
      stakeholders and approach the permitting
      authority with a proposal.
  *   Learn about the approach and present
      information to local groups that have
      potential stakeholders as members.
If you are a non-NPDES stakeholder, you can
  +   Invite the permitting authority to speak at a
      meeting attended by possible stakeholders in
      the process.
  4   Share information with the permitting
      authority about other possible stakeholders.
  4   Develop and present information on
      watershed-based permitting to other
      potential stakeholders to gauge interest in the

Watershed-Based NPDES Implementation Guidance
     Watershed Stakeholders Planning for Action

  It took nearly 3 years and consensus from a 120-member
  Watershed Action Team to develop a watershed action plan to
  restore the Elizabeth River watershed in Virginia. The plan,
  sponsored by the Elizabeth River Project, identifies 18 action
  items that reflect the concerns and priorities of the local
  watershed stakeholders.
  Action items that could influence a watershed-based
  permitting effort include reducing toxics and nutrients in
  storm water runoff, establishing a monitoring program
  and data bank, and supporting efforts to implement a. load
  allocation approach as a voluntary approach to watershed
  management (Elizabeth River Project 2002).
of any watershed approach. EPA envisions
that stakeholders' actions will fuel the entire
process and that every step will include some
aspect of stakeholder involvement.

To help guide the stakeholder group
throughout this process, identifying a
facilitator could prove advantageous. A
facilitator can develop and enforce guidelines
for participation in any stakeholder meetings,
ensure that all interests are heard, assess
stakeholders' degree of understanding of the
process and technical details of watershed
permitting, and identify points of contention
impeding the process and help the group to
work through them.

After identifying the initial stakeholder group and the appropriate facilitator, it is essential to conduct a
few very basic activities: (1) educate stakeholders on the concept of watershed-based NPDES permitting
and obtain their support for this approach, (2) provide stakeholders with background information and
known data on the condition of the watershed, and (3) obtain input from stakeholders on both the concept
of watershed-based permitting and the factors affecting implementation in their watershed.

The stakeholder group could serve as the collective decisionmaking body for some aspects of the
watershed-based NPDES permitting effort (e.g., goal setting) or as a group that simply provides advice
and guidance to the permitting authority. Given the various backgrounds, interests, and areas of expertise
among the group, it is important that everyone has a general understanding of the NPDES program and
the watershed-based NPDES permitting concept. The NPDES permitting authority or a representative
from EPA should provide the group with this information. In addition, the permitting authority might
want to compile readily available information about the health of the watershed (e.g., existing watershed
management plans, state 305(b) reports, volunteer monitoring information) to provide stakeholders with
an introduction to the water quality issues in the watershed.

Once the members of the stakeholder group have reviewed basic information about the watershed and
the concept of watershed-based NPDES permitting, they can begin to examine the approach and consider
ways to customize it for their watershed.

Step Three:  Collect and Analyze Data for Permit Development
As with development of any NPDES permit, the permitting authority developing a watershed-based
permit needs to collect  and analyze data on receiving water standards and goals, receiving water
characteristics,  and sources of pollutants to the waterbody. These data will be used as inputs for water
quality models that will assist the permitting authority in establishing appropriate requirements in the
watershed-based permit. Because a watershed-based permit addresses multiple sources within the
watershed, this  data collection and analysis process will be similar to that used in developing TMDLs
for impaired waterbodies.  Data collection and analysis for watershed-based permitting, however,
is further complicated by the fact that the analysis might address not only multiple  sources but also
multiple pollutants. This section lists questions stakeholders should consider when conducting initial data
collection and analysis, and lists potential sources for those data.

Developing and Implementing a Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Approach
                                                                Identifying Pollutant Hot Spots:
                                                               Selenium Stakeholders Case Study

                                                           Members of the Selenium Stakeholders Group in
                                                           Colorado work together to collect information on
                                                           the sources of selenium in the South Platte River
                                                           watershed. Through their monitoring efforts, the
                                                           Selenium Stakeholders Group identified "hot spots"
                                                           of selenium and traced these elevated concentrations
                                                           upstream to nonpoint sources in the watershed.
                                                           By collaboratively monitoring, the Selenium
                                                           Stakeholders Group revealed important information
                                                           about upstream selenium concentrations that the
                                                           state would use as background concentrations in
                                                           calculating permit limits. The comprehensive data
                                                           set generated by the group will contribute to the
                                                           development of a site-specific selenium criterion
                                                           that will affect future permit limits.

                                                           Working as a consortium of watershed point source
                                                           dischargers allowed members of the Selenium
                                                           Stakeholders Group to generate a significant
                                                           amount of data while leveraging their  resources.
                                                           The result was a larger data set to support the goals
                                                           of all point source dischargers at a lower cost to
                                                           each member (Congram et al. 2002).
Receiving Water Standards and Goals
   4   What are the applicable water quality
       - Designated uses
       - Numeric criteria (including magnitude,
         duration, and frequency) and narrative
       - Antidegradation policy and implementation
   *   Are water quality standards scheduled for
       review or have changes to water quality
       standards been proposed?
   4   Are there any variances to existing water
       quality standards?
   4   What are the critical conditions under which the
       water quality standards apply (e.g., low flow)?
   4   Do different water quality standards provisions
       apply under different critical conditions (e.g.,
       low flow vs. peak flow conditions)?
   ^   What is the state or tribal mixing zone policy?
   *   Is there a TMDL or watershed plan?
   f   What other goals, in addition to water quality standards, have stakeholders identified?
       - Water quantity
       - Endangered species habitat protection
       - Drinking water source protection
       - Green space protection
       - Recreation
   4   Have the stakeholders identified any  water quality goals that should be modified (e.g., through a
       Use Attainability Analysis)?


   f   State or tribal water quality standards.
   4   Use Attainability Analyses for water  quality standards.
   4   Approved TMDLs.
   4   State, tribal, or local watershed plans.
   f   State, regional, tribal, or local ordinances, authorities, or initiatives.
   4   Stakeholder meeting decisions or other input about water quality goals (e.g., meeting minutes,
       watershed group planning documents).

Receiving Water Data
   4   Is the receiving water meeting water  quality standards?

                                                Watershed-Based NPDES Implementation Guidance
       What are the characteristics of the receiving
       water under critical conditions (e.g., low or
       high flow, temperature, pH, hardness)?
       What unique issues related to overall water
       quality should be considered in the permitting
       process (e.g., endangered species, historic
       Clean Water Act 305(b) reports.
       Clean Water Act 303(d) listings of impaired
       TMDL analyses.
       State, tribal, or local watershed plans.
       U.S. Geological Survey stream data (flow,
       water quality).
       EPA, state, or tribal monitoring data (e.g.,
       Discharge Monitoring Reports.
       Environmental Impact Statements.
       Federal and state endangered species and
       historic preservation laws.
       Special studies by regulatory authorities, point
       sources, or other agencies (e.g., U.S. Fish and
       Wildlife Service).
            WHERE DO I FIT IN?
   Collecting and Analyzing Data for Permit
If you are the NPDES Permitting Authority, you can
  *   Collect all relevant data available at the state
      level and identify data gaps.
  4   Initiate a process for assessing data availability
      among watershed stakeholders.
  *   Identify a strategy for addressing existing data
      gaps and present the strategy to the stakeholder
      group (use mechanisms such as Clean Water
      Act section 308 or state equivalent).
If you are a point source, you can
  *   Share existing data from ongoing monitoring
  4   Initiate a monitoring consortium with other
      point and nonpoint sources.
  4   Contribute resources to fill data gaps.
If you are non-NPDES stakeholder, you can
  *   Organize a volunteer monitoring program with
      input from the permitting authority to collect
  4   Share existing data from ongoing monitoring
  *   Write a grant proposal to obtain funds for a
      watershed monitoring program.
Pollutant Source Data
   4   What point sources are located within the watershed and where are they?
   4   What nonpoint sources are located within the watershed and where are they?
   4   Are there major pollutant sources that originate outside the watershed (e.g., upstream sources, air
   4   What loading of each pollutant of concern is contributed by each source?
   4   How are loadings transported to and within the watershed?
   4   Federal, state,  or local geographic information system layers (e.g., point source layer, land use
   4   Permit applications.
   4   Discharge Monitoring Reports.
   4   Special studies conducted by the discharger (e.g., mixing studies).
   4   Nonpoint source loading estimates from modeling.
   4   Drinking water source water assessments.

Developing and Implementing a Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Approach	

Some or all of these data would be used to establish NPDES permit conditions for point sources in the
watershed. At this stage of the process, the NPDES stakeholders initiating the process might decide it
is appropriate to change the scope of the watershed-based permitting effort. For example, based on an
analysis of existing water quality, the watershed-based permit might be tailored to focus on a single
pollutant or a few critical pollutants of concern for which there are a number of sources in the watershed.
Or, the stakeholders might analyze data on sources and determine that the watershed permit should
address multiple pollutants for only one category of sources (e.g., municipal discharges). The stakeholders
might choose to limit or enlarge the geographic scope of the watershed-based permit to reduce
complexity, or to reduce  or expand the number of sources and pollutants the permit considers.

In the course of completing this step, stakeholders might also identify  a need to generate additional data
to support the watershed-based permitting process. Additional data and information could come from the
following sources:

   4  Requests under the authority of Clean Water Act section 308 for point sources to provide additional
      information needed to develop their NPDES permits (e.g., effluent data, mixing studies).
   4  Voluntary monitoring or other studies by permittees participating in the watershed-based permitting
      process, perhaps through a monitoring consortium.
   *  Additional monitoring studies conducted by EPA, the state, a tribe, or a local government.

Any additional monitoring performed to support the watershed-based permitting process should follow
federal and state data collection standards to ensure high-quality, credible data. If a state intends to
conduct additional monitoring to support watershed-based permitting,  the monitoring program developed
to fulfill this need should address the 10 elements outlined in the document Elements of a State Water
Monitoring and Assessment Program (USEPA 2003). If stakeholders are assisting with additional data
collection efforts,  monitoring programs should comply with the state's data quality management plan and
quality assurance program.

Step Four:  Develop Watershed-Based Permit Conditions and Documentation
An NPDES permit has five major components: (1) a cover page, (2) effluent limitations, (3) monitoring
and reporting requirements, (4) special conditions, and (5) standard conditions. In addition, each
permit has an administrative record that documents the basis for permit conditions. One element of
the administrative record is a fact sheet or statement of basis that explains the rationale for the effluent
limitations, monitoring and reporting requirements, and any special conditions. This section summarizes
the content of and process for developing each of these major permit components and the appropriate
documentation for a watershed-based permit.

Cover Page
Though only a small portion of any NPDES permit, the cover page has a critical administrative function.
It typically includes the name and location of the permittee(s), a statement authorizing each discharge, a
list of locations of authorized discharges, and the effective period of the permit (not to exceed 5 years).

Effluent Limitations
Effluent limitations are requirements that restrict pollutant discharges from point sources. Permitting
authorities spend a large  portion of the time  for permit development determining appropriate effluent
limitations. Effluent limitations are developed by considering the technology available to treat pollutants
(technology-based limits) and the protection of the designated uses of the receiving water (water quality-
based limits).  The most protective limitation (technology- or water quality-based) is included in the permit.

                                              Watershed-Based NPDES Implementation Guidance
Technology-Based Limitations
For many point sources, technology-based effluent limitations are based on national standards. Municipal
(POTW) discharges must meet secondary treatment standards, and many nonmunicipal (industrial)
discharges must meet national effluent limitations guidelines promulgated by EPA. Where national
requirements are not available for industrial discharges, the permitting authority might have to establish
technology-based limitations for each discharger based on best professional judgment.

Technology-based requirements in watershed-based permits are developed in the same manner as
technology-based requirements for traditional individual permits. The applicable national standards apply
regardless of geographic location and are based on the performance capability of the specific industry.
Similarly, technology-based limits developed by best professional judgment, although calculated for a
specific discharger, are also based on performance capabilities. Technology-based effluent limits do not
depend on the specific watershed or on site-specific environmental factors such as stream flow or existing
ambient water quality. Where a watershed-based permit covers more than one category of discharges,
there may be some technology-based requirements in  the permit that apply to only a subset of all the
discharges covered by the permit.

If technology-based effluent limitations are not sufficient to attain and maintain the applicable water
quality standards, permitting authorities must develop water quality-based effluent limitations.
Developing water quality-based effluent limitations presents the best opportunity to consider permit
conditions based on overall watershed conditions, interaction  among sources in the watershed, and
watershed goals.

Water Quality-Based Limitations
EPA issued detailed guidance on developing water quality-based effluent limitations for toxics in its
Technical Support Document for Water Quality-Based Toxics Control (1991).  Traditionally, water
quality-based effluent limitations developed using the approach in that document reflect only the impact
of the discharge from the facility, combined with upstream background concentrations or loadings of the
pollutant of concern, where such data are available. Water quality-based effluent limitations developed
for watershed-based permits, however, should consider multiple sources in the watershed. The permitting
authority might have to use water  quality models to determine the allowable pollutant load from all
sources based on the applicable water quality standards or goals.

The key task in developing water quality-based effluent limits in a watershed-based permitting approach
is determining the  appropriate wasteload allocations for each of the point  sources. Again, this process
should already have been completed if there is a TMDL or watershed plan. These allocations may be
expressed through multiple, coordinated permits or a single permit that applies to multiple sources.
It is possible that some point sources included
in a watershed-based permitting process will not
have water quality-based effluent limitations for
all pollutants of concern. The Clean Water Act and
implementing regulations for the NPDES program
require water quality-based effluent limits where
necessary to achieve water quality standards. Where
a facility does not have the "reasonable potential" to
cause or contribute to an ambient excursion of water
quality standards for a particular pollutant, a water
quality-based effluent limitation for that pollutant
at that facility is not necessary (40 CFR 122.44(d)).
      Developing Appropriate Limits for
          Storm Water Discharges

Effluent limitations to control point source discharges
are usually expressed in numerical form. However,
for many storm water discharges, it may be infeasible
to calculate numeric effluent limits. In these cases
effluent limits may be expressed as BMPs (see 40
CFR122.44(k)). For more information on appropriate
effluent limitations for storm water discharges visit
EPA's Web site at

Developing and Implementing a Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Approach
Thus, it is possible that even a single watershed-based permit that applies to multiple sources could have
a common set of water quality-based effluent limits for all point sources covered by the permit, as well as
some water quality-based effluent limits that apply to a limited subset of dischargers. The more diversity
in applicable effluent limitations across the set of point sources considered in the watershed-based
permitting process, the more complex the watershed permit or permits will be. After assessing the need
for water quality-based limits for all the point sources in the watershed, stakeholders might determine
that it is desirable to narrow the scope of the watershed permitting effort to a limited set of discharges or
pollutants in the watershed (see Step Five: Issue Watershed-Based NPDES Permit).

The fact sheet or statement of basis for the permit should explain all decisions made in developing
the water quality-based effluent limits, including the rationale and assumptions used in deriving the
limits. Fact sheets not only describe the factual, legal, and policy questions considered in preparing
a permit, this element of the permit administrative record also documents the methodological issues
addressed in preparing the permit. Given watershed-based permitting is site-specific and might require
new calculations and methodologies, the permit fact sheet will help the general public understand both
the rationale and the process of developing permit conditions and assist other permit writers that are
undertaking a similar watershed-based approach.

Monitoring  and Reporting Requirements
Monitoring and reporting requirements  in a permit are used to characterize effluent and receiving
water quality, evaluate wastewater treatment efficiency,  and determine compliance with other permit
conditions. Monitoring and reporting requirements in a watershed-based NPDES permit are likely to
be a combination of individual discharges and watershed-wide requirements. Monitoring and reporting
requirements included in the permit must provide the necessary data for the permittee to demonstrate
compliance with the permit conditions.  They should also support other watershed management activities.
The monitoring should be part of the overall
monitoring and assessment plan for the watershed
and provide data needed to determine progress toward
watershed goals.
Useful Monitoring and Reporting Resources
Individual Requirements
In a watershed-based permit, dischargers with
individual technology-based or water quality-
based effluent limitations or other individual
permit conditions (e.g., ambient monitoring) will
continue to have individual monitoring and reporting
requirements that reflect those permit conditions. The
U.S. EPA NPDES Permit Writers 'Manual provides
guidance on establishing individual monitoring and
reporting requirements.

Watershed-Wide Requirements
In addition to individual monitoring and reporting
requirements, watershed-based NPDES permits may
contain watershed-wide requirements that could be
applied to multiple dischargers in the watershed.
For example, permittees might form a monitoring
consortium to collect ambient water quality data that
USEPA. 1996. U.S. EPA NPDES Permit Writers'.
Manual. EPA-833-B-96-003, Office of Water (4203)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,

USEPA. 1996. The Volunteer Monitor's Guide to
Quality Assurance Project Plans. EPA-841-B-96-
003, Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds,
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,

USEPA. 1997. Monitoring Consortiums: A Cost-
Effective Means to Enhancing Watershed Data
Collection and Analysis. EPA-841-R-97-006, Office
of Water (4503F) U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency, Washington, DC.

USEPA. 2003. Elements of a State Water Monitoring
and Assessment Program. EPA-841-B-03-003,
Assessment and Watershed Protection Division,
Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds, U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

                                             Watershed-Based NPDES Implementation Guidance
supplements end-of-pipe monitoring data required by NPDES permits. Through a monitoring consortium,
permittees could generate data that could be used in Clean Water Act section 305(b) water quality
reports and other watershed assessments. Depending on the structure of the watershed-based permit(s),
watershed-wide requirements might be coordinated across several individual permits or contained in a
single permit that applies to multiple sources. EPA has developed guidance on monitoring consortiums
that might be helpful to permitting authorities in developing watershed-wide monitoring and reporting
requirements (USEPA 1997).

Special Conditions
Special conditions in watershed-based permits may include best management practices, compliance
schedules, administrative and reporting requirements associated with a trading program, or special studies
(e.g., mixing zone analyses, site-specific criteria studies, studies to support analyses of attainability of
designated uses, bioaccumulation studies). Special conditions may be applied to individual dischargers,
to a group of dischargers, or watershed-wide. Incorporating requirements for special studies into a
watershed-based permit presents an excellent opportunity for maximizing efficient use of stakeholder
resources. For example, a group of dischargers collectively held responsible for a special study on
sediment contamination might be able to complete the study more quickly and with less resources than
if the permitting authority had to include requirements in individual permits to try to obtain the desired

Standard Conditions
Standard conditions are preestablished conditions that must be included in every NPDES permit,
including watershed-based  permits. Standard conditions describe the legal, administrative, and procedural
requirements of the permit. Certain standard conditions are required by federal regulation (see 40 CFR
122.41 and 122.42), but state permitting  authorities may have additional standard conditions adopted in
their state regulations.

Administrative Record
The administrative record forms the foundation for issuing a permit. Where EPA is  the permitting
authority, the contents of the administrative record are prescribed by regulation (40 CFR 124.9 and
124.18). In addition to the supporting documentation that would be in the record for any NPDES permit,
the record for a watershed-based permit may include reports from facilitated stakeholder meetings, local
watershed plans, nonpoint source loading or load reduction estimates, and any other documentation that
explains or supports watershed-based requirements in the permit. Stakeholders interested in the  success
of a watershed-based permit should help to make sure that the permitting authority  has the information it
needs to develop a complete, well-organized administrative record that is easy to access and understand.

Step Five: Issue Watershed-Based NPDES  Permit
The most important factors affecting the process for issuing a watershed-based permit will be the
administrative requirements and the type or structure of the permit.

Permitting authorities, permittees, and other stakeholders need to be familiar with the specific
administrative requirements for permit issuance in their jurisdiction (in accordance  with 40 CFR Part
124). Administrative requirements address public notice and comment; public hearings; EPA and state or
tribal permit review; actions required for final permit issuance (e.g., approval of the state environmental
board); and requirements for modification or for permit appeal after final permit issuance. These
requirements vary by jurisdiction.

Developing and Implementing a Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Approach
Another major factor affecting the permit issuance
process is the type or structure of the watershed-
based permit. Watershed-based NPDES permitting
approaches will vary from watershed to watershed.
As a result, the types of permits developed through a
watershed-based permitting process will vary. There
is no single model or example of what an NPDES
permit developed through watershed-based permitting
should look like. Possible watershed-based permitting
mechanisms  are variations of general and individual
point source  NPDES permitting approaches.
Examples of possible approaches are described below
in more detail.

Integrated  Municipal NPDES Permit
   Coverage This permitting approach bundles
             all point source requirements for a
             municipality (POTWs; combined sewer
             overflows; storm water, including
             municipally owned industrial activities
             such as public works and utility yards;
             biosolids; and pretreatment) into a
             single permit.

   Rationale Many municipalities have multiple
             wastewater treatment plants, with each
             plant receiving a separate permit. In
             cases where the treatment plants; storm
             water; combined sewer overflows,
             if applicable; and other municipally
             controlled point source activities are
             all under single ownership and within
             the same watershed boundaries, the
             permitting authority could consider one
             permit that covers and integrates all
             NPDES requirements.

   Benefits  This approach will reduce the
             administrative burden for both the
             permittee and permitting authority (e.g.,
             one application, one public notice and
             public hearing, one compliance report)
             and will allow the permitting authority
             to  develop permit conditions (limits
             and monitoring requirements) that
             specifically address existing watershed
             goals and watershed management plans.
            WHERE DO I FIT IN?
  Developing Watershed-Based Permit Limits
            and Documentation

If you are the NPDES Permitting Authority, you can

  4   Develop the appropriate permit limits and,
      where necessary, allocate the wasteload.

  4   Provide stakeholders the opportunity to
      comment on proposed permit conditions, such
      as limits (based on information provided in the
      fact sheet), during the public notice period or
      public hearings.

  4   Identify opportunities for stakeholders to
      provide technical input into the process (e.g.,
      conduct computer modeling, conduct special

If you are a point source, you can

  4   Offer to contribute to the technical analysis
      required for developing water quality-based
      permit limits.

  *   Propose a special study to conduct as part of the

  4   Provide comment on proposed permit
      conditions, such as limits (based on information
      provided in the fact sheet), during the public
      notice period or public hearings.

  *   Provide materials to include in the
      administrative record.

  *   Consider water quality trading opportunities
      to meet permit limits and water quality goals

If you are a non-NPDES stakeholder, you can

  4   Offer to contribute to the technical analysis
      required for developing water quality-based
      permit limits.

  4   Propose a special study to conduct as part of the

  *   Provide comment on proposed permit
      conditions, such as limits (based on information
      provided in the fact sheet), during the public
      notice period or public hearings.

  *   Host or facilitate a public meeting.

  4   Provide materials to include in the
      administrative record.

Watershed-Based NPDES Implementation Guidance
                    WHERE DO I FIT IN?
          Issuing Watershed-Based NPDES Permits
         If you are the NPDES Permitting Authority, you
Research which permitting options are
feasible given state-specific regulations and
other regional or local considerations.

Educate stakeholders on the pros and cons of
each permitting option.

Craft a preliminary draft of the permit and
ask stakeholders for informal feedback.
Watershed-Based Individual Permit—Multiple
   Coverage This type of permitting approach is
             also a single permit and would cover
             multiple sources included in the same
             watershed, watershed plan, or TMDL.
             It would allow several point sources
             in a watershed to apply for and obtain
             permit coverage under the same permit.

   Rationale This type of permit may be used in
             situations where a watershed plan or
             TMDL identifies the need to address
             a specific pollutant. A watershed
             plan or TMDL implementation plan
             might include agreed-upon controls
             necessary to achieve watershed goals.
             Stakeholders could then identify
             point sources that would be logical to
             include in the same permit. A single
             permit would identify all point sources
             that have agreed to the controls and
             the individual requirements for each
             point source. An example is a permit
             that includes control requirements for
             nutrients issued to all POTWs in the
             watershed and requires specific nutrient
             reduction requirements that reflect
             agreed-upon goals and trades. This
             type of watershed-based permit may
             be issued in addition to the existing
             individual permits and would include
             the necessary controls to  address
             only the specific problem pollutant or
             pollutants. This approach is similar
             to the approach used for wastewater
             treatment plant discharges in North
             Carolina contributing nutrients to the
             Neuse River watershed (NCDENR 2002).

             Another type of multiple-source permit would address all pollutants of concern in the
             watershed. For example,  a single permit could be used to implement a comprehensive
             watershed plan. The watershed plan would have to include procedures for addressing a
             number of stressors to a watershed and identify specific point sources. The permit would
             reflect controls for the point sources and include all requirements that would otherwise be
             found in individual permits for the point sources.

   Benefits   This approach  allows for trades, if used, to be carried out, and it includes any cooperative
             efforts (such as watershed-wide monitoring) necessary for meeting watershed goals. This
             approach also focuses public participation on a single permit.
         If you are a point source, you can

           4   Conduct an analysis of which permit option
               would best suit your situation.

               Review and provide comments on the draft
               permit developed by the permitting authority.

               Comply with permit requirements while
               maintaining a log of challenges, benefits, and
               other recommendations for reissuance of the

               Craft a preliminary draft of the permit and
               request permitting authority action.

         If you are a non-NPDES stakeholder, you can

           4   Define the role you would like to play in the
               context of the permit.

               Serve as a liaison between permittees and
               nonpoint source dischargers in the watershed
               that might affect the success of the permit
               and attainment of water quality goals.

               Provide comment on the draft permit
               developed by the permitting authority.

               Assist with an aspect of permit
               implementation, such as monitoring
               and reporting, as a way to gauge permit

Developing and Implementing a Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Approach	

Watershed General Permits
   Coverage  This approach relies on the use of general permits. These permits would be similar to many
             existing general permits, except that the watershed boundary (and not the type of discharge)
             would be the primary criterion defining eligibility for coverage or the applicability of
             certain conditions in the permit. The permit would include requirements that reflect
             watershed-specific goals (e.g., comprehensive watershed monitoring, nutrient reduction,
             management of biosolids or manure).

   Rationale  The general permit model is very similar to the multiple source permitting approach
             described above. The general permit, however, would require point sources to request
             coverage through a Notice of Intent once the permit is issued rather than through the
             application process used for individual permits.

   Benefits   This general permitting approach could be further refined based on the category or source
             of discharger. The model would allow coverage of common sources (e.g., all POTWs,
             Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or storm water) in the watershed. The limitations
             and requirements within a category or subcategory of sources would largely be the same,
             but the limitations  and requirements might differ among categories or subcategories.

In addition to the permit structure or type, it is also important to consider the appropriate approach. A few
watersheds engaging in this process are exploring the use of adaptive management plans as part of their
watershed-based permitting approach. Adaptive management is an iterative approach to developing and
implementing a management strategy. Any strategy generated through an adaptive management approach
contains a monitoring plan for evaluating implementation successes and has mechanisms in place for
using monitoring data to revise and adjust the overall strategy. An example of where EPA currently
supports the use of adaptive management is NPDES permits for storm water discharges. These permits
contain best management practices, rather than numeric effluent limits, and mechanisms for evaluating the
effectiveness of the practices, allowing permittees to make adjustments to their stormwater management
plans that reflect the data on the effectiveness of best management practices.

There are several factors to consider when determining what type of watershed-based permitting
approach is right for a particular watershed. These factors include the types of sources participating in
the process and requiring permit coverage, the availability of a watershed plan or TMDL, and the need
to address multiple pollutants. The text box entitled "When Considering Watershed-Based NPDES
Permitting, Consider This  ..." under "Step One:  Select a Watershed and Determine  Boundaries" provides
some helpful questions to ask when determining what type of watershed-based permit would be most
appropriate in a particular  watershed.

Step Six: Measure and Report Progress
The ultimate goal of watershed-based permitting is to ensure that receiving water quality is protected
through the implementation of an integrated, holistic approach. Progress toward attaining this overall goal
can be measured at both the watershed and permit levels.

Watershed-Level Performance Measures
Watershed-level performance measures consist of water quality standards and other watershed goals
developed by stakeholders. States, tribes, and territories typically track attainment of water quality
standards through Clean Water Act section 305(b) and 303(d) monitoring and reporting. Other watershed
goals developed by stakeholders  should also be  measurable to allow assessment of trends over time,
much like water quality goals. Some of these measures might directly reflect environmental benefit

                                              Watershed-Based NPDES Implementation Guidance
(e.g., number of stream miles restored for aquatic life habitat). Others might reflect an intermediate step
toward the ultimate environmental goal (e.g., number of storm drains labeled in a stenciling program,
reduction in pounds per year of nitrogen loadings in the watershed).

Permit-Level Performance Measures
A properly developed watershed-based permit will be designed to achieve specific water quality standards
and other goals through effluent limitations and other permit conditions, such as site-specific studies.
These permit requirements are, in effect, the performance measures for the watershed-based permit. Some
of these measures might directly incorporate watershed-level measures. For example, the storm drain
stenciling goal cited above could be directly incorporated as a best management practice requirement in a
watershed permit for a municipality or group of municipalities.

Monitoring and Reporting: Watershed-Based Permits as a Tool for Measuring Progress
As described in "Step Four: Develop Watershed-Based Permit Conditions and Documentation," the
permitting authority will develop monitoring and reporting requirements to ensure compliance with
watershed-based permit effluent limitations and other permit conditions. Thus, implementation of the
permit ensures performance measurement at the permit level, that is, point sources in compliance with
effluent limitations and other permit conditions. With careful planning, however, the monitoring and
reporting requirements in the permit can also provide valuable data for use in measuring progress toward
attainment of watershed-level performance measures.

For example, ambient receiving water monitoring requirements may be included in the permit to evaluate
the impact of the point source discharges on receiving waters and to measure progress toward attaining
water quality standards. Data collected as part
of the watershed-based permit .can be combined
with data and information generated by other
related watershed protection activities outside the
watershed-based permit (e.g., habitat restoration
programs) to assess the overall condition of the
watershed. Collectively, these measures would
provide all stakeholders with an indication
of progress with respect to watershed-level
performance measures.
 When Developing Monitoring and Reporting
Requirements for Performance Measurement,
        Consider Whether They Are...
    Consistent with the effluent limitations and
    conditions (permit-level performance measures)
    contained in the watershed-based permit.
Data collected through watershed-based
permitting approaches should be easily accessible
to stakeholders in the watershed and other
interested parties. Doing so will ensure that
watershed data can inform other important
efforts that might affect the watershed, such as
the development of watershed-based plans to
address nonpoint source pollution using section
319 grant funding. EPA's Elements of a State
Water Monitoring and Assessment Program
recommends that states use STORET to make
monitoring data available (USEPA 2003b). EPA
is stressing the importance of using STORET
to manage monitoring data from EPA-funded
projects, such as Watershed Initiative grants and
Consistent with measuring attainment of water
quality standards and watershed management and
protection goals (watershed-level performance
    Quantifiable so as to allow comparison over time.

    Specific in terms of roles and responsibilities for data
    generation and reporting.
    Understandable to all stakeholders.

    Reflective of appropriate data collection and
    reporting methods.

    Tailored to the various point and nonpoint sources
    contributing pollutants to the watershed.

    Reported in a format that allows for efficient
    review by the permitting authority, as well as all

    Not overly burdensome in light of other monitoring
    and reporting requirements.

Developing and Implementing a Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Approach

section 319 grants (USEPA 2003b). STORET is publicly available and widely used, making water quality
data available to a broad range of stakeholders to allow for program integration at a watershed level.

                                           Watershed-Based NPDES Implementation Guidance
Section Three: Potential  Benefits  and  Challenges of Watershed-

Based NPDES Permitting
Achieving water quality goals in a cost-effective and efficient manner is one of the many potential
benefits EPA anticipates that stakeholders such as permittees and permitting authorities can realize
through watershed-based NPDES permitting. Although there is limited empirical information on the
benefits of watershed-based NPDES permitting, EPA expects that ongoing pilot projects and other efforts
will demonstrate a mix of both administrative and environmental benefits. As with any change, EPA
anticipates that there will be several challenges in moving watershed-based permitting from concept to
implementation. Overall, EPA believes that the benefits will outweigh the challenges.

Benefits of Watershed-Based Permitting
EPA anticipates a number of benefits from watershed-based permitting. Although the specific benefits will
be unique to each project, they will likely include a mix of environmental and administrative benefits such
as those described below.

Enhanced Opportunity for Environmental Results
Watershed-based permitting can help to expand the focus of the NPDES Program beyond the "end of the
pipe" by promoting more ambient monitoring, permit conditions that consider upstream and downstream
impacts, and consideration of all stressors. This approach provides the foundation for thinking more
broadly about potential solutions to environmental problems or ways to attain watershed goals. Also,
the additional  information about the watershed gained from this approach to permitting will help the
permitting authority to develop more effective permits—even for point sources in the watershed that are
not participating in the process.

Integration of Water-Related  Programs
Developing watershed-based permits requires much of the same data and information used in developing
TMDLs, source water assessment plans under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and watershed management
plans. Given the similarities in both process and required inputs, watershed-based permitting might serve
as yet another driver facilitating integration of water resource protection programs under the Clean Water
Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Targeted and Maximized Use of Resources to Achieve Greatest Environmental Results
Through the analysis to support the development of watershed-based permits, stakeholders might gain
a better understanding of the stressors that affect watershed health. With better data, NPDES permitting
authorities can develop targeted permit limits that are  tied to watershed data and goals, and targeted
monitoring and inspections. Targeted permit limits will also reassure point sources that their efforts
(e.g., investment in new technologies) will achieve the desired water quality results. In addition, more
comprehensive watershed data might help stakeholders prioritize solutions (e.g., determine which
pollutants and which sources  to focus on first to achieve the greatest water quality improvements).

Administrative Efficiencies
Many states implementing the NPDES Program using a basin-wide approach claim that such an approach
results in a more streamlined  permitting process (USEPA 2002a). For example, holding one large public
meeting for a watershed might be more efficient than holding numerous small public meetings for
each individual permit. Administrative efficiencies in the permitting process might enable permitting

Potential Benefits and Challenges of Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting	

authorities to more effectively target valuable resources to the highest priorities and eventually help to
alleviate permitting backlogs.

Local Cooperative Efforts
Watershed-based permitting can promote cooperation and collaboration among point source dischargers
responsible for successfully complying with permit conditions and achieving environmental results. North
Carolina has demonstrated this benefit through the formation of NPDES discharger coalitions that work
together to determine the most equitable approach to reducing loadings (USEPA 2002a).

Watershed-Wide Monitoring Plans
Watershed-based permits can be useful as a catalyst for designing watershed-monitoring plans and also
as a key data source for these plans. Sharing responsibility for monitoring and data collection can result
in cooperative efforts that reduce duplication of work and take full advantage of opportunities for sharing
monitoring responsibilities and results, as well as helping to ensure data are of the necessary quality. With
a coordinated and integrated watershed monitoring plan, there will be one agreed-upon set of data quality
objectives and quality assurance/quality control protocols to follow.

Trading and Other Market-Based Strategies
EPA believes that market-based approaches such as water quality trading can provide greater flexibility
and have potential to achieve greater water quality and environmental benefits than current practices
and policies. Watershed-based permits could be useful in facilitating trading. As discussed earlier,
the process for developing watershed-based permits might include collecting loading data, which are
necessary for making decisions related to trading. The watershed-based permitting process is also likely
to include extensive stakeholder participation, which is another necessary component for a successful
trading program. Stakeholder participation and data exchange within the context of the larger watershed
management planning process could facilitate use of market-based approaches among sources in a

Public  Involvement
Permits contain many common elements that provide a good starting point for opening a dialogue
with the point sources in the watershed community. Usually, as data are gathered and analyzed and the
watershed plan is developed, the process for bringing in more stakeholders becomes clearer and easier.
The permits  provide a single location for gathering much of the data necessary for watershed plans.

Potential Challenges
Like the benefits of watershed-based permitting, the challenges of implementing this approach will be
unique to each watershed and each permit. Some challenges that  stakeholders might encounter throughout
the process are described below.

Expanded Stakeholder  Involvement
As the scope of technical analysis and decisionmaking in the permitting process expands from a single
point  source to a watershed, the number of parties with an interest in the outcome of the process will
expand, too. An expansion in stakeholders presents a challenge to and a new role for the permitting
authority (coordinator). Engaging a wider variety of stakeholders means that the permitting authority and
the permit writer will have to consider a broader range of interests and watershed goals when developing
the permit, potentially adding technical complexity and time to the permit development process. An

                                              Watershed-Based NPDES Implementation Guidance
expansion in stakeholder involvement will also challenge the other stakeholders as they take the time to
understand one another's goals for and concerns about the watershed, and determine how to best structure
the watershed-based permitting process to meet those goals.

Those involved in watershed-based permitting can address this potential challenge by developing a
strategy for stakeholder involvement. Part of this strategy can include identifying a trained facilitator
to ensure the process is effective and stays on track. Another potential solution is to tap into existing
watershed stakeholder groups and activities, rather than establishing a new process. For example, in
a watershed where a TMDL is under development, there is likely to be a stakeholder group in place.
Watershed-based permitting activities can piggyback onto existing stakeholder meetings to present
information and have decisions made.

Integrating Nonpoint  Sources
As noted above, entities  that contribute nonpoint source pollution play an important part in watershed-
based permitting, in both achieving overall loading reductions of pollutants of concern and providing
their input on watershed goals. It might be challenging, however, to integrate nonpoint sources into the
watershed-based permitting process. Participation by nonpoint sources in most efforts will be voluntary,
but some nonpoint sources might fear that getting involved in a watershed-based permitting process will
lead to direct regulation of their activities. Other stakeholders will need to understand these concerns and
structure the permitting process in such a way that it provides incentives for nonpoint source participation
while addressing nonpoint source concerns about being involved in implementation of a point source
regulatory program.

Many watershed-related activities garner the support and participation of nonpoint sources by using
mechanisms and incentives that might also work for watershed-based permitting. One effective
mechanism for obtaining nonpoint source involvement is outreach, particularly peer-to-peer outreach.
Technical and financial assistance often serve as incentives for participating in watershed management
efforts. To overcome the potential challenge of integrating nonpoint sources, watershed-based permitting
should tap into existing programs that currently involve nonpoint sources in the watershed or provide
an incentive for their involvement. Using a facilitator that has the trust of nonpoint sources within the
watershed might also increase the potential for their participation.

Need for More Flexible Program Infrastructure
Watershed-based NPDES permitting will likely be very different from the process for developing more
traditional NPDES permits. Permitting authorities and EPA have infrastructure in place to analyze data,
develop permit conditions, track compliance, and  conduct enforcement activities for traditional NPDES
permits. Watershed-based permitting might require flexibility in this infrastructure. As previously
discussed, more parties within and outside the permitting agency might be involved in the process, and
developing a watershed-based permit could take longer than developing a traditional permit. Using
increased stakeholder involvement and addressing watershed-wide issues might require changes to the
public notification and participation process for the NPDES Program, as well as other water programs
(e.g., water quality standards,  TMDLs). Permit conditions (e.g., trading arrangements, permit conditions
that apply to multiple point sources) might require permitting authorities to think creatively about how to
track compliance.

Overcoming this potential challenge will require a commitment from NPDES permitting authorities to
identify program infrastructure hurdles and take steps to  address them. Permitting authorities might prefer
to take a proactive approach by analyzing existing program processes and systems  to identify possible
changes that will support watershed-based permitting approaches.

Potential Benefits and Challenges of Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting	

Conflicting Jurisdictional Requirements
Developing permits watershed-wide might require permitting authorities and other stakeholders to
overcome overlapping or conflicting Jurisdictional requirements (e.g., differences in water quality
standards, differences in local ordinances, differences in planning cycles) at the state or local level.
Permitting authorities might also have to address differences in permit requirements or timing of actions
required by existing permits. For example, combining municipal permitting requirements into a single
watershed-based municipal permit could require reconciling schedules for storm water or combined sewer
overflow controls that differ under existing permits for each system.

An analysis of requirements at the federal, state, tribal, and local levels is the first step in identifying
potential conflicts and overcoming them to facilitate watershed-based permitting. The analysis should
include program schedules, agency authority, Jurisdictional boundaries, funding cycles, and public
participation requirements. Through this analysis, points of conflict and opportunities for coordination
can be identified. In addition to conducting this type of analysis, watersheds could also exchange
strategies and effective actions for overcoming Jurisdictional conflicts. This type of information exchange
could happen in the form of watershed-based permitting case studies, presentations, or forums such as
conferences and other types of meetings.

Regulatory Structure
As the watershed-based permitting process develops in a particular watershed, stakeholders might come
up against a number of challenges related to the existing regulatory structure. For example, permitting
authorities might face the challenge of structuring permit requirements that depend on nonpoint source
reductions or point-nonpoint source trades in such a way that they are legally enforceable but do not
encroach on the voluntary nature of nonpoint source participation in the process. As stakeholders identify
such challenges, it will be important for them to work closely with both the permitting authority and
EPA to determine how to address them. EPA, in particular, might be able to apply its experience in other
jurisdictions to help resolve such issues.

EPA and many jurisdictions embarking on a watershed-based permitting  approach are examining
regulatory issues and identifying potential challenges. EPA is encouraging stakeholders to exchange
research and analysis conducted on regulatory issues to avoid duplication of effort and promote the
sharing of ideas and strategies. Identifying challenges related to regulatory structure will enable EPA to
find solutions that work within the existing regulatory structure or to take steps to make the necessary

Making an Initial Investment
As with any changes in ways of doing business, moving to a watershed-based permitting process will
require an initial investment of time and resources. Permitting authorities may, understandably, be
reluctant to make this initial investment in light of their responsibility for timely permit issuance—often
in times of decreasing budgets. Where point sources or other stakeholders are initiating the watershed-
based permitting process, it is critical that they be able to clearly explain why making an investment in
watershed-based permitting will pay off in environmental benefits and administrative benefits for the
stakeholders involved.

Measuring and reporting successes-both environmental and administrative-linked to watershed-based
permitting activities might encourage permitting authorities, point sources, and other stakeholders to
make the initial investment in this approach. This solution requires stakeholders making the initial
investment to think about how they will measure and track success, as well as how they can share
successes. Some stakeholders have shared their process and preliminary results through conferences, case

                                             Watershed-Based NPDES Implementation Guidance
studies, and articles. Dissemination of success stories could expand to include formats such as Web sites
and annual reports. It is likely the learning curve associated with watershed-based permitting will become
shorter as more and more watersheds gain experience in this process, reducing the time and resources
other watersheds will invest when taking this approach.

Potential Benefits and Challenges of Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting
                            Page Intentionally Left Blank

                                             Watershed-Based NPDES Implementation Guidance
Section Four: Moving Ahead In Watershed-Based Permitting

Watershed-based NPDES permitting is gaining momentum as an innovative approach to addressing the
nation's remaining water quality issues. EPA is committed to accelerating watershed-based permitting
efforts through a variety of actions focused on education and technical assistance. Next steps related to
promoting watershed-based permitting include the following:

   ^  Preparing additional guidance documents. In addition to this implementation guidance
      document, EPA will develop follow-on guidance documents that address the technical and
      procedural aspects of the watershed-based NPDES permitting approach.
   *  Providing technical education. As mentioned in the previous sections, the support of the NPDES
      permitting authority—both program managers and permit writers—is essential to successfully
      implementing watershed-based permitting. By providing the necessary tools for implementation,
      EPA will increase  the likelihood that NPDES permitting authorities will buy into the approach.
      EPA intends to develop educational resources, such as a module on watershed-based permitting
      in the NPDES Permit Writer's Training Course, to ensure that NPDES permitting authorities (and
      other key stakeholders) have the appropriate resources and training to undertake this approach.
   ^  Developing and reporting on case studies and pilot projects. EPA is working with each regional
      office to identify examples of watershed-based permitting.  If no examples exist in a region, EPA
      will encourage the development of pilot projects to generate real-world experience and lessons.
      By tracking ongoing permitting efforts and pilot projects, EPA intends to generate and disseminate
      educational information (e.g., lessons learned about overcoming procedural challenges) that will
      benefit other watershed-based permitting efforts. As projects are completed, the lessons learned
      from the project will be added to a compendium of case studies that will be periodically updated.
   4  Supporting efforts by state NPDES permitting authorities. EPA is committed to providing
      technical support and other resources to state NPDES permitting authorities interested in initiating
      watershed-based permitting activities.

EPA recognizes that in addition to education and technical assistance, stakeholders interested in pursuing
this approach will also need financial resources to support their efforts. A wide variety of federal funding
sources to support watershed-based permitting activities  are available through EPA and other federal
agencies. EPA provides useful tools for researching these federal funding opportunities, including the

   *  The Catalog of Federal Funding Sources for  Watershed Protection is available on EPA's Web
      site ( as a searchable database of federal financial
      assistance sources, including grants and loans. Private and nonprofit sources of funding are not
      included  in this database, but EPA does provide a  limited list of these sources.
   4  The Environmental Finance Program (EFP) is another EPA resource for providing financial
      technical assistance to the regulated community. From the EFP's Web site (
      efp.htm), stakeholders looking for financial resources can obtain information on grants, loans, and
      other financial tools, as well as information on the Environmental Finance Centers Network. This
      Web site also provides links to funding sources by EPA regional office.

To successfully implement watershed-based permitting approaches, EPA encourages stakeholders to
leverage financial resources such as section 319 grant funds  with funding from other federal partners such
as the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The goal is to create an integrated funding base for this integrated
approach to water quality protection.

Moving Ahead in Watershed-Based Permitting
With this initial guidance, EPA has renewed its commitment and reenergized its efforts to fully
incorporate the watershed approach into the implementation of the NPDES Program and create a
comprehensive suite of resources to achieve that goal.


  Congram, A., S. Reeves, B. Linenfelser, and S. Canton. 2002. The Selenium Stakeholders—A Case
            Study for a TMDL Alternative. In Proceedings of the 8th Annual Industrial Wastes
            Technical and Regulatory Conference, Session 8: Regulatory Issues, Water Environment
            Federation, Atlanta City, New Jersey, August 11-14, 2002.

  Ecology (Washington Department of Ecology). 2003. An Overview of Washington State's Watershed
            Approach to Water Quality Management.
   Accessed June 18, 2003.

  Elizabeth River Project. 2002. The Elizabeth River Watershed Restoration and Conservation: A
            Watershed Action Plan. The Elizabeth River Project, Portsmouth, VA.

  Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. 2002. Watershed NPDES Permit Issuance Schedule
            (September 6, 2002 Draft). Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Lansing, MI.

  National  Research Council. 1999. New Strategies for America's Watersheds. Washington, DC.

  North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. 2002. Neuse River Compliance
            Association NPDES Permit No. NCC000001.

  USEPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 1994. EPA NPDES Watershed Strategy. U.S.
            Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

  USEPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 1997. Monitoring Consortiums: A Cost-Effective
            Means to Enhancing Watershed Data Collection and Analysis. U.S. Environmental
            Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

  USEPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2002a. A Review of Statewide Watershed
            Management Approaches. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

  USEPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2002b. Committing EPA's Water Program to Advancing
            the Watershed Approach. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

  USEPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2002c. Establishing Total Maximum Daily Load
            (TMDL) Wasteload Allocations (WLAs) for Stormwater Sources and NPDES Permit
            Requirements  Based on Those WLAs. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,

  USEPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2002d. National Water Quality Inventory 2000
            Report. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

  USEPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2003a. Elements of a State Water Monitoring and
            Assessment Program. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

  USEPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2003b. Nonpoint Source Program and Grants
            Guidelines for States and Territories. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of
            Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds. Fed. Regist., October 23, 2003, 68:60653.

  USEPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2003c. National Pollutant Discharge Elimination
            System (NPDES) Permitting for Environmental Results Strategy. August 15, 2003. U.S.
            Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

USEPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2003d. Watershed-Based National Pollutant
          Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permitting Policy Statement. U.S. Environmental
          Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

USEPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2003e. Water Quality Trading Policy. U.S.
          Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

                  Appendix A

   Watershed Approach Policy Memorandum and
Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Policy Statement


DATE:       December 3, 2002

SUBJECT:   Committing EPA's Water Program to Advancing the Watershed Approach

FROM:      G. Tracy Mehan, III /S/
             Assistant Administrator

TO:          Office Directors
             Regional Water Division Directors

A Renewed Commitment to Watershed Management

       We face many complex and challenging environmental problems related to  the water
environment.  Unlike the problems of the past, today's problems are often subtle, chronic, and
inter-related.  Addressing 21st century problems like polluted runoff, suburban growth, drinking
water security, ground water/surface water interactions, invasive species, microbes in drinking
water, and atmospheric deposition demands a modern approach to environmental protection - an
approach grounded in sound science, innovative solutions, and broad public involvement.

       About a decade ago, EPA embraced and took steps to encourage a watershed approach to
better address water  quality problems.  I firmly believe that such  an approach, which focuses
multi-stakeholder efforts within hydrologically  defined boundaries to protect and restore our
aquatic resources and ecosystems,  offers the most cost-effective opportunity to tackle today's
challenges. Administrator Whitman shares my belief.  She feels strongly that a watershed or
"place-based" approach is one of the most important environmental guiding principles for her as
well as for this Administration.  By working together with a diverse array of partners, I believe
we  can identify and implement successful  strategies to maintain and  restore the  chemical,
physical  and  biological  integrity of our waters.   No  doubt, many of these strategies will be
tailored to specific problems in specific communities. Hence, the importance of the watershed as
a social and hydrological reality.  Here is where communities, neighbor to neighbor, can engage,
educate and persuade one another in a mutual quest for shared goals.

       Although a decade of effort has resulted in general awareness of the watershed approach
within the  Agency, recent evaluations show substantial gaps in  actual implementation.  The
watershed approach should not be seen as merely a special initiative, targeted at just  a selected
set of places or involving a relatively small group of EPA or state staff. Rather, it should be the
fulcrum of our restoration and protection efforts, and those of our many stakeholders, private and
public. Failure to fully  incorporate the watershed approach into program implementation will
result in failure to achieve our environmental objectives in many of our nation's waters.

       I  want to reaffirm the Office of Water's commitment to  advancing the  watershed
approach. Consequently, I am creating a Watershed Management Council (WMC) comprised of
Headquarters  and Regional representatives.  This group is charged with overseeing efforts to
address the specific  issues listed below, as well as identifying and  exploring other ways to
advance the watershed approach.  I am asking each  Office Director (OWOW, OST, OWM,
OGWDW, and AIEO) to designate an SES-level representative for the Council, and I am inviting

each Regional Water Management Division Director to do the same. Please provide the names
of your representatives to Walter Mugdan of Region 2 by December 31, 2002. This group will
begin its work at a kickoff meeting to be held before the end of January. Among the specific
issues to be addressed under the leadership of the WMC are:

•  Program Integration
   The watershed approach can help us integrate and focus our programs.  I would like the
Council to:

   1) Review the findings of the Program Integration Team (PIT)
   The PIT and other recent evaluations made recommendations for improving the coordination
of programs on a watershed basis. I want the WMC to review these findings and recommend to
me specific actions Headquarters and/or the Regions can take to make these recommendations a
reality.   Particular attention  should  be paid to ways  to  better integrate CWA and SDWA
   2) Create models of program integration
   The Watershed Initiative, pending Congressional appropriation, will fund projects in up to 20
selected  watersheds  in 2003.  I would like EPA to make these places "laboratories"  for
integration of EPA and other federal programs.   Consistent with local objectives, I  want the
Regions to develop program integration strategies for each selected watershed and present these
strategies to the WMC within 6 months of the announcement of the awards.  If an integration
strategy is not consistent with local objectives for a particular watershed, I would like to know

   3) Expand cross-program training
   In order for cross-program integration to work, EPA, state, and other federal agency staff need
to have a better overall understanding of key CWA and SDWA programs and other federal  and
state tools for watershed protection.  I would like the WMC to establish annual goals starting in
the calendar year 2003 for providing training to HQ and Regional water employees on the basics
of our key programs under CWA, SDWA, and other relevant statutes.

•  Internal Management Systems
   I have heard from many that EPA's internal accountability mechanisms, such as Headquarters-
Regional management agreements and employee performance standards, do not offer adequate
incentives and  can create  barriers  to program integration  on a watershed basis.  The WMC
should look for ways to remove existing barriers and create new incentives.

•  Funding Local Watershed Strategies
   Local partnerships are finding it challenging to fund the implementation of holistic watershed
strategies because of narrowly-defined,  balkanized grants and loans. I would like the WMC to
explore ways to address  this by  identifying "best practices"  and models  for streamlining
processes and other barriers to watershed funding.

•  Local Capacity Building
   Local watershed partnerships report substantial need for a wide array of training and technical
assistance.   EPA  and  state water programs  cannot provide help to  all of the thousands of
watershed partnerships that are now operating.  We need  to bolster the efforts of academia,
nonprofits, local governments, and businesses. EPA could help fill some of this gap by:

   1) Expanding support to 3rd-party providers
   As an initial step, I want the WMC to recommend ways to provide additional support to our
partners' efforts,  such  as  helping  other  organizations expand their  training and  technical
assistance to local entities.

   2) Increasing direct EPA involvement in training and technical assistance.
   I believe that our assistance, if strategically placed, can be extremely valuable in helping local
watershed partnerships.  Since my  arrival here, I  have been impressed with the tremendous
amount of expertise that resides in EPA, and I would like to increase our presence in those places
where we can be of most value at the local level.  I expect the WMC to find ways to accomplish
this, such as the use of IP As, internet broadcasting, increased EPA travel, and other strategies.
To support the WMC,  I am tasking  the OW Budget staff with examining  internal barriers to
having sufficient travel  funds.

•  Assistance to States and Tribes
   As you know, there can be many variations in the specific approaches states use to implement
programs on a watershed basis. It is not my  intention that EPA impose'or specify a particular
watershed management model. Rather, we should support states in implementing the approaches
they find work best for them.  I want to expand our efforts to help states that are seeking
assistance in adopting a statewide watershed approach; and I want to assist those states that have
already begun to  implement watershed management for certain elements of their programs to
broaden their application  where practicable. I would also like to  have EPA's  Statewide
Watershed Approach Framework document updated to better reflect this philosophy.

   Tribes are key  partners in demonstrating the value of the watershed approach.  We need to
find additional ways to help tribes build the watershed approach into their programs.

•  Fostering Innovations
    I cannot emphasize enough the importance of innovation to EPA's future. Watersheds are
ideal  for experimenting with market-based incentives and trading,  and for devising new, non-
traditional methods to provide data and information in ways that allow stakeholders at the local
level to better assess and address their own unique problems. For example, I believe the use of
watershed-based permits can help foster these kinds of innovations.  As such, I would like to
accelerate our efforts to implement innovations in several program areas. Specifically, I would
like to see the following:
   /   Implement innovations set forth in the Strategy for Water Quality Standards and Criteria.
   /   Expand  the use of innovative approaches to monitoring  and  information collection in
   watersheds (using landscape modeling and probablistic designs).

/  Use integrated approaches to TMDL development in watersheds; and use the watershed
approach to attain water quality standards, obviating the  need for TMDLs in a number of
/  Promote the use of watershed plans to guide greater investment of SRF funds to protect
source water, wetlands, and address nonpoint sources.
/  Accelerate efforts to develop and  issue NPDES permits on a watershed basis.  To
accomplish this, I'm asking  OWM to issue, in final form,  the watershed-based permitting
policy statement and to work with the Regions to:
              - Develop and implement a "roadmap" for advancing watershed-based NPDES
permitting activities.
              - Implement the watershed-based  NPDES  permitting policy immediately in
those  Regions that administer the NPDES permit program.
              - Have regions identify watershed-based permit case studies.  If no  regional
examples already exist, create watershed-based pilots.
              - Include watershed-based permitting approaches as priority decision criteria
for Water Quality Cooperative Agreement funding.
              - Characterize the permit universe to determine permits  or groups of permits
that may be a high priority for reissuance based on watershed specific goals, impacts,  and
expected results.
/  Aggressively promote trading and other market-based incentives in watersheds.
/  Foster innovation through ORD's research agenda.

•   Rulemakings and Guidance
    I've heard that, on occasion, EPA rules and guidance  can unintentionally create barriers
to implementing watershed approaches.  The WMC should  recommend a process to ensure
that this does not happen in the future.

    I am very enthusiastic  about this endeavor. The watershed approach is essential to
our most pressing water issues, and now is the right time to focus and re-invigorate our efforts
to more fully institutionalize the approach  - both on the ground and as a cornerstone of our
core water programs.  I greatly appreciate your continued support for the watershed approach,
as well as your active leadership in this particular effort.
cc:  Christine Todd Whitman, Administrator
    Linda Fisher, Deputy Administrator
    Tom Gibson, Associate Administrator, Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation
    Regional Administrators
    Assistant Administrators

                                 WASHINGTON, D.C. 20460
                                 JAN - 7  2003
                                                                            OFFICE OF

 SUBJECT:  Watershed-Based National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
              Permitting Policy Statement
 FROM:      G. Tracy Mehan, III
              Assistant Administrator
 TO:         Water Division Directors, Regions I - X
       I am pleased to transmit to you the final Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Policy
Statement. The policy referenced in my December 3, 2002, memorandum on Advancing the
Watershed Approach, represents an important aspect of EPA's commitment to watershed
management and support for a holistic watershed approach to water quality management.

       The policy describes the benefits of watershed-based permitting, and the implementing
mechanisms for this component of the watershed approach, and how EPA will be encouraging an
increase in the use of watershed-based NPDES permits over the next 12 months.  Owing to the
importance of NPDES permits and the potential benefits and efficiencies of this approach, I
encourage you to work with your states to move watershed-based permitting from the concept
stage to implementation  stage.

       If you have questions regarding this policy, please contact Robin Kime at (202) 564-5047.
I greatly appreciate your support and leadership in this effort.
cc:    Christine Todd Whitman, Administrator
      Linda Fisher, Deputy Administrator
      Jessica Furey, Associate Administrator, Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation
      Regional Administrators
      Office Directors, Office of Water

                                POLICY STATEMENT
       As outlined in Assistant Administrator for Water, G. Tracy Mehan's December 3, 2002,
memo to EPA Office Directors and EPA Regions, EPA is committed to implement Office of
Water programs through watershed management. EPA is issuing this policy statement to
demonstrate the Agency's significant level of support for developing and issuing National
Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits on a watershed basis, and to further
the objectives of the 1994 NPDES Watershed Strategy. For this Policy, watershed-based
permitting is defined as an approach that produces NPDES permits that are issued to point
sources on a geographic or watershed basis to meet watershed goals.  This policy statement
communicates EPA's policy on implementing NPDES permitting activities on a watershed basis,
discusses the benefits of watershed-based permitting, presents an explanation of the process and
several mechanisms to implement watershed-based permitting, and outlines how EPA will be
encouraging watershed-based permitting.

       A holistic watershed management approach provides a framework for addressing all
stressors within a hydrologically defined drainage basin instead of viewing individual  sources in
isolation. Within a broader watershed management system, the watershed-based permitting
approach is a tool that can assist with implementation activities.  The utility of this tool relies
heavily on a detailed, integrated and inclusive watershed planning process. Watershed planning
includes monitoring and assessment activities that generate the data necessary for clear watershed
goals to be established and permits to be designed to specifically address the goals.


       EPA will build on the existing NPDES Watershed Strategy and previous activities to
actively support and promote watershed-based NPDES permitting. Further, EPA will work to
provide greater incentives and mechanisms necessary to undertake a more holistic and integrated
approach to assessing water quality conditions, identifying and quantifying pollutant sources,
developing and implementing efficient control practices, and working with stakeholders to the
extent authorized by the Clean Water Act and implementing regulations. EPA will educate
stakeholders about the benefits of watershed-based permitting, facilitate stakeholder
involvement, and move watershed-based permitting from concept to implementation.


       EPA continues to support a holistic watershed approach to water quality management.
The process for developing and issuing NPDES permits on a watershed basis is an important tool
in water quality management. EPA believes that developing and issuing NPDES permits on a
watershed basis can benefit all watershed stakeholders, from the NPDES permitting authority to
local community members. A watershed-based approach to point source permitting under the

NPDES program may serve as one innovative tool for achieving new efficiencies and
environmental results. EPA believes that watershed-based permitting can:
       - lead to more environmentally effective results;
       - emphasize measuring the effectiveness of targeted actions on improvements in water
       - provide greater opportunities for trading and other market based approaches;
       - reduce the cost of improving the quality of the nation's waters;
       - foster more effective implementation of watershed plans, including total maximum daily
       loads (TMDLs); and
       - realize other ancillary benefits beyond those that have been achieved under the Clean
       Water Act (e.g., facilitate program integration including integration of Clean Water Act
       and Safe Drinking Water Act programs).

Explanation of the Process and Mechanisms to Implement Watershed-Based Permitting

       Watershed-based permitting is a process that ultimately produces NPDES permits that are
issued to point sources on a geographic or watershed basis, hi establishing point source controls
in a watershed-based permit, the permitting authority may focus on watershed goals, and consider
multiple pollutant sources and stressors, including the level of nonpoint source control that is
practicable,  hi general, there are numerous permitting mechanisms that may be used to develop
and issue permits within a watershed approach. The most common approach currently used in
many states is to re-issue NPDES permits according to a five-year rotating basin schedule. Each
source receives an individual permit and the permits are issued based on basin or watershed
management areas. This process allows permittees to compare their permits with other
dischargers in the same area and facilitates sharing data to arrive at the most appropriate limits.
Some other permit approaches currently available include:

             Watershed-based General Permit - Common Sources. An NPDES permitting
             authority would develop and issue this type of general permit to a category of
             point sources within a watershed, such as all publicly owned treatment works
             (POTWs) or all confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) or all storm water
             discharges from municipal separate storm sewer systems. This is similar to
             current general permits, except that the geographic area covered by the permit
             would correspond to the watershed boundary.  The most significant difference
             between a traditional general permit and the watershed-based general permit for
             common sources would be permit requirements that reflect watershed-specific
             water quality standards.

             Watershed-based General Permit - Collective Sources.  Unlike the watershed-
             based general permit described above, this type of permit would  address all point
             sources within the watershed or alternatively, several subcategories of point
             sources within the watershed. This type of permit would be similar to the multi-
             sector general permit for storm water discharges associated with industrial activity
             with requirements being tied to categories and subcategories of discharges.
             Again, the distinguishing feature of this type of permit would be geographic

             coverage based on the watershed-boundaries and the permit requirements
             reflecting watershed-specific water quality standards.

             Watershed-based Individual Permit - Multiple Permittees.  Similar to the
             approach used for Phase I MS4s with multiple permittees, this type of permit
             would allow several point sources within a watershed to apply for and obtain
             permit coverage under an individual permit.

             Integrated Municipal NPDES Permit.  This type of permit would bundle all
             NPDES permit requirements for a municipality (e.g., storm water, combined
             sewer overflows, biosolids, pretreatment, etc.) into a single municipal permit.
             While this type of permit would focus on municipal boundaries rather than
             watershed boundaries, the analysis in developing permit requirements would
             reflect watershed-specific water quality standards.

These are not all the possible mechanisms that may be used.  EPA and states may consider other
possible approaches that are consistent with the NPDES regulations and the Clean Water Act

How EPA will Be Encouraging Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting

       EPA is developing a framework for watershed-based NPDES permitting.  It will be
supported by a targeted communications approach focused on informing key stakeholders about
the variety of tools developed by EPA to implement a watershed-based permitting approach.
Over the next 12 months, EPA anticipates developing and issuing guidance addressing different
aspects of the watershed-based permitting approach, including general implementation issues,
technical tools and approaches, and procedural considerations. EPA will also be researching and
documenting case studies that demonstrate different approaches for watershed-based permitting.
EPA will maintain and periodically update the list of case studies.

       This policy expresses EPA's support for watershed-based NPDES permitting.
Implementation of watershed-based permitting will be governed by existing requirements of the
CWA and EPA's NPDES implementing regulations.  Those CWA provisions and regulations
contain legally binding requirements. This document does not substitute for those provisions or
regulations.  The recommendations in this memorandum are not binding; the permitting authority
may consider other approaches consistent with the CWA and EPA regulations. When EPA
makes a permitting decision, it will make each decision on a case-by-case basis and will be
guided by the applicable requirements of the CWA and implementing regulations, taking into
account comments and information presented at that time by interested persons regarding the
appropriateness of applying these recommendations to the particular situation.  EPA may change
this guidance in the future.

                   Appendix B
NPDES Permitting for Environmental Results Strategy


          ?                       WASHINGTON, D.C. 20460

                                          AUG  1  5 2003
                                                                              OFFICE OF

  SUBJECT:  National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permitting for
               Environmental Results Strategy

  FROM:      G. Tracy Mehan, III      ys ..
               Assistant Administrator   1  ,\ • \

  TO:         Water Division Directors, Regions I - X
       The NPDES program is integral to preserving and protecting our nation's waters.  Over
the past decade, interest in the program has increased with a corresponding increase in demands.
The scope of regulated entities and environmental problems facing the program have become
more numerous and broader in range. There is a growing need for resources to implement the
Clean Water Act. Amidst these conditions, we are faced with many challenges in the Water
Program. The National Water Quality  Inventory 2000 Report to Congress indicates that of the
nation's river and stream miles assessed, 39% are impaired. The NPDES permit backlog while
improving, still persists. The integrity  of the NPDES program has been raised as an issue in 19
petitions for EPA to withdraw program authorization in 12 States and an additional seven
lawsuits have been brought. Because of these and other challenges, more than ever we need to
build on past success, develop the tools needed to meet changing demands, and strategically
manage the program into the future. To address these serious issues, we have developed the
Permitting for Environmental Results Strategy to more efficiently and effectively manage the
NPDES permit program with increased environmental focus.

       The elements of this Strategy have been in development for over six months.  Details of
this Strategy were discussed at our Water Division Directors meeting in May, in numerous
conference calls with you and your staff, and in workshop meetings and conference calls  that
have included both State and Regional  staff.  We plan to implement the Strategy beginning
October 1, 2003. Over the next few weeks we will discuss the tools and processes with the
States and with you during our September meeting and make adjustments as necessary. I look
forward to your assistance in that process.

Elements of the Strategy

       This Strategy presents a coordinated and integrated management system that when fully
implemented will produce a program that is more efficient and focuses on environmental
endpoints.  The Strategy is an important element in an overall plan to meet the watershed
restoration goals established in EPA's Strategic Plan. The primary components of the Strategy
are listed below.

          •   Program Results: Permit prioritization - Identify the most environmentally
              significant permits and prioritize permit issuance within and among watersheds to
              maximize environmental benefits and optimize valuable resources.

          •   Program Efficiency: Permit streamlining - Identify and share best practices to
              increase efficiencies in permit issuance thus enabling resources to be applied
              where needed.

          •   Program Integrity - Implement tools to continually assess NPDES program
              performance and provide the necessary information and direction for making
              adjustments to program activities to correct problems and ensure continued

       The Strategy also includes a detailed Communication and Outreach element that is
integral to the implementation of the three primary components. We are working closely with the
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance on these efforts. Communication and outreach
elements of the Strategy will ensure timely dissemination of information and training to maintain
necessary expertise within the program. Once implemented, this management system will be
reviewed annually to provide opportunity to make any necessary changes.

       The Strategy is designed to support Goal 2 of EPA's new Strategic Plan and work within
the Office of Water's (OW) watershed approach.  The prioritization and streamlining
components provide procedures to organize and better manage program implementation on a
watershed basis. The integrity component provides the needed structure for effective program
performance assessment.


       As partners administering the NPDES program, EPA and the States are working to improve the
NPDES program by efficiently and effectively targeting resources to achieve the greatest environmental
benefit. The Permitting for Environmental Results Strategy is  designed to lead this effort by providing a
system to reduce barriers to effective program implementation and achieve progress towards greater
environmental benefits. I intend to pay close attention to the effectiveness of this implementation and
discuss it with EPA Managers on a routine basis.  As we move forward to implement the Strategy, the
following action items are key:

For the Office of Wastewater Management (OWM):
    •   Fully develop the tools described in this Strategy in consultation with OECA, Regions and
    •   Work with EPA Regions and States to implement Strategy tools.
    •   Provide regular updates on Strategy implementation progress.
    •   Develop a prioritization process to identify high priority permits for workload planning.
       Priority permits will primarily be those for which requirements need to be revised in order to
       protect impaired or vulnerable waters.
    •   Share streamlining tools as successful approaches are identified among Regions and States.

EPA Regions and NPDES Authorized States:
    •   Develop approaches to implement the Strategy.
    •   Develop a candidate list of priority permits in each Region and State annually to be used as a
       basis for identifying permits to be issued in the upcoming year.
    •   Begin program integrity reviews in FY 2004 and complete them as soon as practicable.

       I am very excited about this effort. I look forward to working closely with you and the States to
overcome the challenges we face and protect and restore our nations' waters. If you have questions
regarding this policy, please contact Linda Boornazian, Director, Water Permits Division at (202) 564-
0221.1 greatly appreciate your support and leadership in this effort.
cc:  Marianne L. Horinko, Acting Administrator
    Stephen L. Johnson, Acting Deputy Administrator
    Jessica Furey, Associate Administrator, Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation
    J. P. Suarez, Assistant Administrator, Office of Enforcement and Compliance
    Michael Shapiro, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Water
    Benjamin Grumbles, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Water
    David Ziegele, Director, Office of Planning Analysis and Accountability, Office of the
      Chief Financial Officer
    Regional Administrators
    Office Directors, Office of Water
    Office Directors, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
    Regional NPDES Program Managers
    Regional Enforcement Branch Chiefs

   NPDES Permitting for Environmental Results Strategy
                          Goals and Approaches
       The NPDES Permitting for Environmental Results Strategy describes goals, expected
outcomes, and tools designed to help Regions and States in three key areas: permit prioritization,
permit streamlining, and program integrity. The Office of Water (OW) will work with the
Regions and States to develop and implement an effective and productive Permitting for
Environmental Results Strategy. The Strategy will be reviewed annually and updated as needed.

       As indicated in the cover memorandum, a key element for the implementation of this
Strategy involves an effort on the part of the Regions and States to characterize and prioritize
permit issuance. As part of the NPDES backlog reduction efforts, OW requested on March 31,
2000, that the Regions submit backlog reduction plans for themselves and from the authorized
States. As an expansion of this effort, OW will request that the Regions and States annually
develop a permit issuance prioritization strategy and where priority permits remain backlogged,
an explanation of the barriers to permit issuance and plans to address them. This information will
be part of the annual State program profile for each  State described below.

Strategy Goals  and Approaches

          im Results: NPDES Permit Prioritization
       Many permits, but not all, need to be revised upon re-issuance to achieve environmental
benefits.  EPA believes that, with a well articulated permit prioritization process, Regions and
States can establish a basis for focusing permitting resources on those permits that are likely to
provide a significant environmental benefit. Once a process is established, data requirements to
implement the process can be developed. The Watershed Approach, as described in the
December 3, 2002 memorandum "Committing EPA's Water Program to Advancing the
Watershed Approach" provides a framework to integrate data and characterization of the permit
universe in order to prioritize and streamline permit issuance. Information about the impacts of
permits enables permitting authorities to prioritize permit issuance within and among watersheds
to maximize environmental benefits and valuable resources.

Goal:  Permit Prioritization - Identify permits of high environmental significance based on
       linkages between permits and environmental attributes.  EPA recognizes that there are
       many applications for prioritization tools. For example, permit prioritization may help
       address workload issues or prioritize permit issuance when combined with bundling
       groups of permits or applying other streamlining options.

Permit Screening Process - OW is working with Regions and States to develop a screening
process designed to help permitting authorities efficiently prioritize permit issuance to optimize
valuable resources. The screening process will focus primarily on actions related to


environmental significance and will include a set of criteria (e.g., change in water quality
standards, source water protection, protection of threatened and endangered species, impaired
waters) against which permits will be compared to develop a candidate list of priority permits.
Regions and States will use this candidate list as the basis for discussions to determine a final list
of priority permits annually.  EPA and the States are developing a screening checklist to assist in
this process.

      Outcome: EPA will work with States annually to identify high priority permits based on
      criteria that primarily includes permits for which requirements need to be revised in order
      to protect impaired or vulnerable waters. A candidate list of priority permits in each State
      will be developed annually and will serve as the basis for identifying the priority permits
      the States will issue in the upcoming year.

Goal: Permit Data - Identify and secure critical data required to characterize the regulated
      universe and manage program implementation.

Tool#l: Permit Compliance System (PCS) Modernization (Integrated Compliance Information
System (ICIS - NPDES) - Management of the NPDES program is supported by the Permit
Compliance System (PCS). Since the last modernization of PCS in 1985, the NPDES program
has evolved to include new program requirements and an expansion of the core NPDES
program. These changes are not currently addressed in legacy PCS. The need for a modernized
PCS to support the changing requirements of the NPDES program and to take advantage of
modern computer technology is critical for effective management of the NPDES program. PCS
modernization is part of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance's (OECA) larger
modernization effort, the Integrated Compliance Information System (ICIS). Phase I of ICIS,
implemented in 2002, established the core database and Web-based interface to  support the
federal enforcement and compliance program.  ICIS -  NPDES (formerly ICIS Phase II) will
replace legacy PCS and will be integrated with ICIS Phase I. As PCS modernization moves
forward, OW will continue to be an active partner in the design and development of ICIS -

      Outcome:  Produce a new modern information management system that will not only
      provide access to accurate, real-time program data, but will also provide desktop tools to
      support permit applicants, permit writers, program managers, stakeholders, and the

Tool #2: Joint Memorandum from the Office of Wastewater Management and the Office of
Compliance to State and Regional Enforcement and Water Program Directors Assessing PCS
(Permit Compliance System) Data Quality Improvement - This memorandum will summarize
our work with the States over the past several years to improve data quality in PCS and describes
the next  steps for the project. The memorandum reiterates the necessity of this information for
operation and management of the NPDES program  and summarizes the current status of PCS
data. It also emphasizes the need for quality latitude/longitude data at the outfall level, noting
that this  type of data is essential for electronic tools such as the AskWATERS Permit

Characterization tool and eNPDES (both mentioned in this Strategy). The memorandum,
scheduled to be issued in the Fall of 2003, will request that each Region work with their States to
prepare a plan for improving PCS data quality.

       Outcome: Obtain an increased quantity and quality of data, particularly locational data,
       critical to characterizing the NPDES permitted universe.

Goal:  Permit Characterization - Accurately characterize the universe of NPDES permits
       relative to environmental attributes.  OW recognizes that there are several approaches to
       permit characterization ranging from using computer applications to query national data
       (described below) to facility-level review of permits. OW will continue to work with co-
       regulators to explore the most effective methods for characterization.

Tool: AskWATERS: Permit Characterization - OW is developing "AskWATERS," a web-based
tool that allows users to better characterize the relationship between pollutant sources and
stressors by linking a wide variety of environmental data sets. The Water Permits Division
(WPD) is utilizing the AskWATERS application to provide specific linkages between current
and expired NPDES permits and environmental attributes. The initial version of the Permit
Characterization, available on the EPA Intranet at:
identifies NPDES permits discharging to impaired waters throughout the United States. It also
identifies permits that discharge the pollutants that are the listed cause of impairments. As
additional national data become available, they will be added to the tool. Potential topics include
identification of permits that discharge to waters where: EPA and/or State water quality
standards have been recently revised; a public drinking water source is nearby; a fish
consumption advisory is in effect etc.

       Outcome:  Highlight critical areas of concern among current and expired permits to help
       prioritize permit issuance and maximize environmental benefits.
  II. Program Efficiency: NPDES Permit Streamlining
       In light of increasing demands on the NPDES program, OW is working to help
permitting authorities by facilitating streamlining in the permit issuance process and by
providing a variety of tools and support to Regions and States. The December 3, 2002
memorandum from G. Tracy Mehan to Office Directors and Regional Water Division Directors
"Committing EPA's Water Program to Advancing the Watershed Approach" and the January 7,
2003 Watershed-based Permitting Policy Statement provides a clear Statement of EPA's
expectation that NPDES permits should be developed and issued through a process that yields
permits containing requirements that are coordinated on a watershed basis and focus on
watershed goals. As described in the Policy Statement, EPA believes that developing and
issuing NPDES permits on a watershed basis can benefit all watershed stakeholders. In addition
to increased environmental results, many of these benefits involve administrative efficiencies.

Goal:  Permit Streamlining - Identify and promote best practices to increase efficiencies in
       permit issuance.

Tool: Issue Report on Administrative Practices for NPDES Permit Streamlining - Document
research on current practices and legal authorities for specific permit issuance processes, types of
permits and administrative improvements that facilitate time savings and emphasize
environmental results. Examples of such administrative efficiencies to be researched include
bundling groups of permits through administrative procedures, expanded use of watershed-based
permits, general permits, and use of "permit-by-rule."

       Outcome: Issue a report describing administrative efficiencies that may be realized
       within the current regulatory scheme. Convey to permitting authorities EPA-approved
       permit streamlining mechanisms. Document use and effectiveness of streamlining

Goal:  EPA Support and Technical Assistance - Provide targeted support to EPA Regions and
       States to facilitate efficient program implementation. Mechanisms for support include
       electronic tools, guidance, and contract vehicles.

Tool#l: Electronic Tools -  OW developed and will continue to improve upon several electronic
tools to improve the NPDES permitting process. Additionally, OW will work to ensure that
NPDES program needs are being included in the development of many Agency-wide tools.

   •   eNPDES - This electronic permit writing tool is designed to help develop water quality -
       based effluent limits in permits and permit fact sheets. This effort is under development
       with a beta version planned for release by December 2003. The next phase of eNPDES
       will include links to allow data to be pulled from the Storage and Retrieval System for
       National Water Data (STORET) and modernized PCS.

   •   Permit Application Software System (PASS) -  PASS is an electronic NPDES application
       form design to improve application quality and reduce burden on applicants. This system
       is designed to be compatible with EPA and most State data systems, serving as a step
       towards electronic submission of NPDES permit applications. PASS was released in Fall
       of 2002 and is currently in use in 13 States. PASS is located on-line at:
       http://cfpub 1

   •   eNOI - This tool enables on-line completion of applications for storm water construction,
       industrial, and no exposure application and termination forms. This effort is under
       development and is expected to be available in September 2003. Future enhancements to
       eNOI involve the inclusion of Combined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

   •   Permit Scanning - Beginning in June 2003, EPA began making available to the public
       electronic versions of permits and fact sheets for major facilities as they are issued or re-

       issued with the goal of having all major permits represented after five years. The project
       will continue indefinitely so that the most current versions of permits are available.  This
       availability will enable permit writers to easily see how their counterparts in other States
       have approached a variety of issues. Permits are available on-line at:
       http://cfpub 1

       Outcome:  Electronic tools will enable permit writers to more efficiently draft and issue
       permits.  These tools will have a resource saving benefit to NPDES permitting programs,
       and are being designed to ultimately function in an integrated manner to serve as a more
       automated permitting program system.

Tool #2: Watershed-based Permitting Case Studies - To implement NPDES permitting within a
watershed approach, OW is working with Regions, States, and permittees to identify examples of
watershed-based permits. Examples of watershed-based permitting are being documented and
pilot studies have been developed to test different approaches for implementing watershed-based
permitting. As the pilots produce results, the information generated is added to a series of case
studies. The case studies are condensed into fact sheets, reviewed periodically and updated as
appropriate. All case study information is posted on the EPA's website at:

       Outcome:  Facilitate wider adoption of efficiencies gained through watershed-based
       permitting by providing public access to real-world examples including lessons learned,
       successes, challenges, actual permits and fact sheets, networking opportunities etc.

Tool #3: Watershed-Based Permitting Guidance - OW will issue two guidance documents for
use in implementing watershed-based permitting; the first implementation guidance will be
issued in September 2003 and a more detailed supplement to this will be issued in FY 2004. The
more detailed document will serve as a technical guide to developing watershed-based permits.

       Outcome:  Identify opportunities and provide guidance for watershed-based permitting.

Tool #4: Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) - The BPA is a multiple contract award vehicle
established in 2002. It enables EPA and States to directly tailor contract assistance to their
specific permit program needs. This vehicle supports States through direct exchange of Clean
Water Act §106 funds for "in-kind" contract assistance. Services for all aspects of watershed
management are provided including: NPDES permitting, monitoring, non-point source program
implementation, and implementation of the Total Maximum Daily Loads program. The BPA
serves as long-range contract support with an unlimited dollar ceiling.  States are consistently
using this contract capacity.

       Outcome: Streamline permit program management using the support and skills available
       through this vehicle.

 III. NPDES Program Integrity
       The purpose of the Program Integrity element of this Strategy is to implement a
management system that provides EPA and States with improved capability to examine the
performance of the NPDES program as well as other water and enforcement related activities. It
provides a vehicle for States and Regions to showcase their strengths and enables them to
identify and address shortfalls in a timely manner. Such a management system improves
confidence in program implementation. This confidence will foster public acceptance of the use
of more efficient processes including prioritization and streamlining. In addition, program
oversight will be conducted in a more focused way.

Goal: NPDES Program Integrity - Implement a management system that will enable EPA and
       States to regularly assess the integrity of the NPDES program as well as other water and
       enforcement related activities on a national,  regional, and State-specific level and to
       improve overall program performance.

Tool#l: Data Management and Reporting Systems  - Implement effective mechanisms for the
collection, reporting and tracking of key NPDES programmatic data to assess and improve
program integrity.

   •   Self-Assessment Questionnaires:  One of the questionnaires is directed toward the
       Regions and focuses on the oversight of State NPDES programs. The other questionnaire
       is directed toward the permitting authority and addresses the following: program
       administration, legal authorities, permit issuance, trends in compliance monitoring and
       enforcement actions, NPDES program innovations, program implementation,
       vulnerabilities, and environmental outcomes. Resources may be provided to assist States,
       where requested, in completing the information.

   •   Management report: This report provides a  State-by-State  summary of performance
       trends in NPDES and other NPDES-related water programs. The report is based primarily
       on data  readily available from existing databases and reports. It provides a snapshot of
       State performance in four areas: (1) program administration; (2) program
       implementation;  (3) compliance monitoring  and enforcement; (4) environmental
       outcomes. While the report gives indications of program performance, it does not give a
       comprehensive view of the program and should be used in conjunction with the other

   •   State NPDES NPDES Program Profiles: The State profiles summarize how well each
       State is  managing its NPDES program. The profiles highlight State innovations and
       successes toward more efficient or effective  management of the NPDES program. The
      profiles are based primarily on data gathered for the Management report and the NPDES
      program self-assessments  conducted by Regions and States.

   •   Withdrawal Petition Database:  The NPDES program has 20 petitions in 13 States and
       seven lawsuits to withdraw NPDES authorization of authorized programs. Until recently,
       OW lacked a complete understanding as to whether the petitions were being addressed in
       a consistent manner and how frequently they were being addressed. To address this, a
       protocol was established in May 2000 for Regions to standardize a time frame to address
       petitioner concerns. OW also developed a management tool for tracking withdrawal
       petitions.  In  May 2003, OW launched  a Web-based withdrawal petition management
       tool to track withdrawal petitions.

Tool #2: Performance Assessment and Feedback Mechanisms - In order for EPA to direct
resources and efforts to areas that improve program integrity, OW will assess the impact and
results of this Strategy's tools and goals and will determine if any changes need to be made to the
process. OECA is currently working with EPA Regions and State Commissioners to identify
appropriate compliance and enforcement program performance standards across all media
programs. Once this effort is completed, modifications to the initial compliance and
enforcement components of the Program Integrity Project may be necessary. Specific plans for
this measurement are currently under development; comments and suggestions are welcome.

Tool #3: NPDES Program Oversight Guidance - The NPDES State Program Guidance has not
been updated since its creation in April 1986.  The Guidance does not address areas created or
modified by the 1987 Clean Water Act amendments. In addition to increasing penalties for
noncompliance, the amendments also carved out the permit program for storm water discharges
from industrial sources and municipalities, created the federal sludge management program, and
deemed that Indian tribes could be treated as "States" under the Act. Since 1987, there have been
a number of regulatory changes made to reflect the amendments, and a variety of court cases that
have affected the NPDES program. Because most States (all but five) already have approved
NPDES programs, the focus of updating the Guidance will be on program operations and the
working relationship between Regions and States. WPD plans to issue the updated Guidance
based on feedback received from States and Regions through completed self-assessment
questionnaires and State profiles in FY 2005.

       Outcome:  The NPDES program management integrity system will be established. There
       are three components to this system: self-assessments of individual State and Regional
       NPDES programs, the National Water Program Management Report, and State NPDES
       program profiles. This information will be made available to the public. Once fully
       implemented, this system will enable States and Regions to showcase their strengths and
       address program vulnerabilities in a timely manner.
    Communications and Outreach

       The Permitting for Environmental Results Strategy relies on communications to ensure
that EPA and co-regulator staff and managers have the information they need to successfully

implement the NPDES program. Through a variety of mechanisms, OW will provide and
coordinate dissemination of key program information. Also, training will be provided on the
most current topics and tools necessary to foster efficient and informed NPDES permit issuance.

Goal:  NPDES Communications - Provide a variety of communications tools and activities
       including training and outreach to help attain Permitting for Environmental Results

Tool#l: Training - EPA recognizes that an important aspect of efficient program
implementation is reliance on a well-trained permitting staff. Recent reports from Regions and
States indicate a high rate of staff turnover. To alleviate the resulting problems, OW will provide
training on the latest tools and innovative permitting approaches.

    •   Basic NPDES Permit Writers' Training Course - OW will continue to provide training to
       permit writers on the basic regulatory framework and technical considerations that
       support the development of wastewater discharge permits as required under the NPDES
       program. Training will also be provided to non-technical EPA Headquarters staff and
       managers to facilitate information sharing and program integration.

    •   Training/Outreach for Experienced Permit Writers - OW will provide an annual forum to
       facilitate communication and information exchange on the most current NPDES issues
       among experienced permit writers.  This face-to-face exchange is an important aspect to
       maintaining a strong knowledge base among permit writers particularly when faced with
       emerging and often cross-program issues.

    •   Third Party Training - OW realizes that the regulated community needs training similar
       to training provided for permitting authorities. However, the specific information needed
       by permitees is very different from information needed by  permit writers. Permit writers
       develop  permits daily and need to be well versed on the development and issuance
       process.  In contrast, permittees apply for and receive a permit only once every five years,
       and therefore permit issuance is only one limited activity in the life of the permit. The
       permittee is more focused on implementation of the permit and maintaining compliance.
       We will  work with the  Water Environment Federation and the Center for Environmental
       Innovation to develop a training course designed to help increase permittees knowledge
       of the program and help foster an atmosphere of cooperation. Once the permittee
       understands the program and how the data are used, permit issuance should be less

       Outcome:  Create a variety of efficiencies in the  permit issuance process by maintaining
       and supporting a well-informed/trained group of permit writers and permitees.

Tool #2: Outreach and Communication - OW will work to strengthen NPDES programs by
providing outreach and fostering communication among co-regulators. These efforts are

designed to promote an accurate, real-time picture of the integrity of State authorized programs,
both individually and nationally.

   •   Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators (ASIWPCA)
       CWA 104(b)(3) Cooperative Agreement Work Group Communications: OW will
       maintain ongoing communications with the ASIWPCA Permitting for Environmental
       Results Workgroup. This workgroup was established by a CWA 104(b)(3) Cooperative
       Agreement and has several goals that are related to the goals of this Strategy. We will
       use this forum to help ensure successful implementation of the Permitting for
       Environmental Results Strategy.

       Outcome: Strengthen nationwide NPDES program implementation through improved
       communication and understanding among managers of the NPDES program.

   •   Regional Liaisons: Headquarters liaisons to each Region will serve in several capacities
       to foster communication between Regions and Headquarters (HQ). For example, they
       will share information such as weekly reports currently produced by each HQ NPDES
       Branch as well as other materials useful for routine program management. Liaisons will
       also assist with program integrity efforts by facilitating attention from HQ management
       on policy issues in need of this attention. Also, liaisons will assist in the preparation and
       distribution of materials related to the NPDES program for use in Regional reviews
       conducted by HQ and other senior manager visits to the Regions.

       Outcome: Liaisons will improve communications between EPA Regions and HQ by
       working with their Regional counterparts to provide a systematic information exchange
       regarding implementation of the NPDES program.

                 Appendix C
Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Case Studies


        Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Case Studies

What is Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting?
Watershed-based NPDES permitting is a process that emphasizes addressing all stressors within a
hydrologically-defmed drainage basin or other geographic area, rather than addressing individual
pollutant sources on a discharge-by-discharge basis. Watershed-based permitting can encompass a variety
of activities ranging from synchronizing permits within a basin to developing water-quality based
effluent limits using a multiple discharger modeling analysis. The type of permitting activity will vary
from watershed-to-watershed, depending on the unique circumstances in the watershed and the sources
impacting watershed conditions. The ultimate goal of watershed-based NPDES permitting, however, is to
develop and issue NPDES permits that consider the entire watershed, not just an individual point source

What Does This Document Contain?
To promote this innovative permitting approach, EPA has generated a series of case study fact sheets
highlighting existing watershed-based NPDES permitting efforts. These case studies generally fall into
two categories: 1) Final Permit and 2) Permitting Approach. Case studies in the Final Permit category
provide an overview of completed NPDES permits that have been developed and issued on a watershed
basis. Case studies in the Permitting Approach category focus on projects related to one or more aspects
of the watershed-based NPDES permitting process (i.e., an actual permit has not yet resulted from this
process). This document contains fact sheets for the following case studies:

    1.   General Permit for Nitrogen Dischargers: Final Permit
    2.   The Selenium Stakeholder Group: Permitting Approach
    3.   Michigan General NPDES Storm Water Permit: Final Permit
    4.   Clean Water Services (Hillsboro, OR): Permitting Approach
    5.   Rahr Malting Company: Final Permit
    6.   Northern Kentucky Sanitation District No. 1: Permitting Approach
    7.   Discharges of Storm Water Runoff Associated with Industrial Activities and Maintenance
        Dredging at Marinas in the Lake Tahoe Hydrologic Unit (El Dorado and Placer Counties): Final
    8.   Discharges of Storm Water Runoff Associated with Construction Activity Involving Land
        Disturbance in the Lake Tahoe Hydrologic Unit (El Dorado, Placer and Alpine Counties): Final
    9.   Waste Discharge Requirements for the City of South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County, and Placer
        County Storm Water/Urban Runoff Discharge: Final Permit
    10.  Louisville and Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD): Permitting Approach

Implementation of watershed-based permitting is relatively limited at this time. These case studies
represent permitting activities that exemplify aspects of the watershed-based permitting process and help
to illustrate how this approach can be applied in watersheds. EPA does not intend to imply that these case
studies are "model" permits or permitting approaches. EPA first made these case studies available in
April 2003. This version reflects updates to the original case studies made in December 2003. As more
information is made available, EPA will update these fact sheets to reflect the current progress and
results in these watershed-based permitting efforts. As states and EPA regions identify other examples,
EPA will produce new case studies to add to the fact sheet series. The case study series, as well as other
information on watershed-based NPDES permitting, is available on EPA's Web site at





    United States
    Environmental Protection

    EPA 833-B-03-004

    December 2003