USEPA Office of Water - TMDL Program Results Analysis Fact Sheet 10 - May 5, 2009

                            Fact  Sheet: Recovery  Potential Project
      Landscape Screening Tools and Resources for Assessing the Restorability of Impaired Waters
Project Goal: Develop tools and data to help state TMDL and restoration
programs decide where best to use their limited restoration resources
among large numbers of impaired waters.
       Document factors relevant to recovery potential from the technical literature
       and practitioner insights;
       Apply these findings to develop recovery potential indicators measurable from
       commonly available geospatial and monitoring data;
       Develop a rapid and flexible recovery potential screening tool; and
       Demonstrate how landscape analysis techniques, EPA data systems and
       statewide CIS data can help states screen and compare impaired waters for
       recovery potential during restoration planning.
                                                                                    Keco very po ten tial

                                                                                    should be a primary

                                                                                     consideration in

                                                                                   restoration programs

                                                                                    whose main aim is to

                                                                                   bring about recovery
   Relevance of Recovery Potential
         in Restoration Planning
  Ecological capacity - Stressor exposure  \ _ Social context &
  to regain function    past, present & future   process factors
      Effectiveness of BMPs or restoration practices
             Impaired Waters Recovery
                                              Underlying Concept: Our working definition of recovery potential is
                                              the likelihood of an impaired water to reattain Water Quality
                                              Standards or other valued attributes, given its ecological
                                              capacity to regain function, its exposure to stressors, and the
                                              social context affecting efforts to improve its condition.
                                              Funding for restoration is always limited, thus priority-setting is
                                              inevitable but difficult. Traditionally, recovery potential has not been
                                              easily factored into restoration planning at the statewide scale
                                              because of limited data and technical tools. Advances in data and
                                              CIS technology have made it feasible to perform rapid, statewide,
                                              comparative screening of large numbers of waters, using geo-spatial
                                              indicators of recovery potential selected for the place and purpose at
                                              hand. Recovery potential should be a primary consideration in
                                              restoration programs whose primary purpose is to bring about
recovery. Comparative methods to aid restoration planning can lead to better restoration investments that restore
valuable waters earlier, more consistently, more cost-effectively, and in more places.

Potential Applications of Recovery Potential
       Aid state decisions in 303(d) list scheduling for TMDL development and in planning TMDL implementation;
       Assist in restoration-related decisions regarding Clean Water Act Section 319 nonpoint source control projects
        as well as state-level restoration initiatives;
       Help EPA regions develop strategies to meet performance tracking measures, such as where increases in
        restored waters and improved watersheds can most likely be achieved;
       Assist state-level and basin-level programs that need to focus on priority places due to limited resources; and
       Reveal more about underlying factors that determine TMDL or restoration successes and use these new insights
        to support program decisions.
Recovery Potential Tools and Resources

     Restoration and Recovery Literature Database: 1500+
     published citations in a partially annotated MS Access
     database.  Copies are open for each user's personal
     customizing, key wording and adding new references.

     Recovery Potential Indicators: Tested over 130 metrics in
     three classes: ecological capacity, stressor exposure, and
     social context (see examples on back). The 60+ now  in use
     have fact sheets on scientific basis and measurement.

     Recovery Potential Screening Methods: Indicator-
     specific measurement and scoring procedures, and an
     overall comparative screening approach (at right).
                                                            Two-Part Screening:

                                                            I. Total ecological and stressor
                                                            indicator scoring (above) reveals
                                                            waters with higher recovery
                                                            potential (High E/Low S), and
                                                            allows selected additions (dots).

                                                            2. This subset of waters is then
                                                            scored with social indicators
                                                            (right). High E/Low S waters
                                                            with high total social scores (far
                                                            right end) are likely the most
                                                            promising recovery prospects.

      Social Score
     Recovery Potential User Support Website (under development):  Will contain the downloadable literature
     database, indicator fact sheets, data source links, analysis methods and recovery screening examples.

Example Recovery Potential Indicators
(user selects only the metrics in each class most relevant to the place and purpose of the screening)
Ecolociical Capacity Metrics
natural channel form
recolonization access
Strahler stream order
rare taxa presence
historical species occurrence
species range factor
corridor % forest
corridor % woody vegetation
corridor slope
bank stability/soils
bank stability/woody vegetation
watershed shape
watershed size
watershed % forest
proximity to green infrastructure hub
contiguity w/green infrastructure corridor
biotic community integrity
soil resilience properties
Stressor Exposure Metrics
invasive species risk
hydrologic alteration
aquatic barriers
corridor road crossings
corridor road density
corridor % U-index
corridor % agriculture
corridor % urban
corridor % impervious surface
watershed % U index
watershed road density
watershed % agriculture
watershed % tile-drained cropland
watershed % urban
watershed % impervious surface
severity of 303(d) listed causes
severity of loading
past land use change trajectory
Social Context & Process Metrics
watershed % protected land
applicable regulation
funding eligibility
303(d) schedule priority
estimated restoration cost
certainty of causal linkages
TMDL or other plan existence
university proximity
certainty of restoration practices
watershed organizational leadership
watershed collaboration
large watershed management potential
government agency involvement
local socio-economic stress
landownership complexity
jurisdictional complexity
valued ecological attribute
human health and safety
recreational resource
State and Regional Scale Demonstration Projects

Illinois Pilot Study.
       screened the recovery potential of 723 Illinois
       303(d)-listed waters in a statewide comparison
       developed, measured and mapped 104 ecological,
       stressor and social indicators
       provided first 'proof of concept' demonstration of
       indicators  and methods for screening
Maryland Watershed Screening (ongoing)
       screening recovery potential at small watershed
       scale to aid restoration strategies
       comparing impaired and unimpaired watersheds
       exploring integration of recovery potential concepts
       with bioassessment and Stressor Identification
GIS data reveal the common interest areas:
                                                         Example statewide recovery potential maps for ecological,
                                                         stressor, and social metrics, and a final sum of ranks map.
                                             EPA Region 3 Native Fisheries Recovery Screening
                                                   screening in four states to identify high potential native fish
                                                    habitat restorations of interest to three key programs (303(d),
                                                    abandoned minelands, fisheries restoration)
                                                   focused approach, less than ten indicators
                                                   demonstrated that very rapid statewide recovery screenings
                                                    to address specific issues are feasible
                                                   stimulated cross-program collaborations and additional
                                                    screening at state level in Pennsylvania
       Doug Norton, EPA Office of Water, Project Co-Manager: Project design, recovery
        literature synthesis, indicator development, application of recovery potential concept to water programs
       Jim Wickham, EPA Office of Research and Development, Project Co-Manager:
        Development and application of landscape indicators mapping, measurement, datasets and database design