Watershed Protection Planning

Watershed Protection Plans (WPPs) are locally-driven projects that serve as a mechanism for addressing complex water quality problems that occur across multiple jurisdictions. The goal of a WPP is to protect healthy waterbodies from potential pollutant threats and to restore polluted waterbodies. Watershed protection planning serves as a tool to better leverage the resources of local governments, state and federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations. The planning and development process integrates the viewpoints of all stakeholders in the watershed to create innovative solutions that benefit the community and the surrounding environment, promote a unified approach to seeking funding for implementation projects, and create a coordinated public communication and education program.

Texas Watershed Stewards play an important role in WPP development and implementation. In fact, most workshops are held in locations currently undergoing development of a WPP or planning for WPP implementation. One of the main goals of the TWS program is to educate the local citizenry about the basics of watersheds and water quality, and then motivate them to participate in an upcoming WPP for their watershed.

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the TSSWCB provide guidance and technical assistance to local stakeholder groups in developing and implementing watershed protection plans. For a list of current WPP projects around the state, please visit: https://www.tsswcb.texas.gov/programs/texas-nonpoint-source-management-program/watershed-protection-plan-program.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has broken the planning and implementation process for WPPs into 6 major steps:

  1. Build Partnerships
    • Identify key stakeholders
    • Identify Issues of concern
    • Set preliminary goals
    • Develop indicators
  2. Characterize the Watershed
    • Gather existing data and create a watershed inventory
    • Identify data gaps and collect additional data if needed
    • Analyze data
    • Identify causes and sources of pollution that need to be controlled
    • Estimate pollution loads
  3. Finalize Goals and Identify Solutions
    • Set overall goals and management objectives
    • Develop indicators/targets
    • Determine load reductions needed
    • Identify critical areas
    • Develop management measures to achieve goals
  4. Design an Implementation Plan
    • Develop implementation schedule
    • Develop interim milestones to track implementation and management measures
    • Develop criteria to measure progress toward meeting watershed goals
    • Develop monitoring component
    • Develop information/education component
    • Develop evaluation process
    • Identify technical and financial assistance needed to implement plan
    • Assign responsibility for reviewing and revising the plan
  5. Implement Watershed Plan
    • Implement management strategies
    • Conduct monitoring
    • Conduct information/education activities
  6. Measure Progress and Make Adjustments
    • Review and evaluate information
    • Share results
    • Prepare annual work plans
    • Report back to stakeholders and others
    • Make adjustments to program

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