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Watersheds

Issue Summary
U.S. EPA
Other Federal Agencies
States
Organizations/Non-Government Programs
Publications
Databases and Tools
Financial Assistance


Issue SummaryWatershed

The term watershed refers to the geographic boundaries of a particular waterbody, its ecosystem and the land that drains to it. A watershed also includes groundwater aquifers that discharge to and receive discharge from streams, wetlands, ponds, and lakes. Large watersheds are sometimes referred to as river basins.

Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. They cross county, state, and national boundaries. No matter where you are, you're in a watershed! You and everyone in your watershed are part of the watershed community. The animals, birds, and fish are too. You influence what happens in your watershed, good or bad, by how you treat the natural resources, the soil, water, air, plants, and animals. What happens in your small watershed also affects the larger watershed downstream.

Watershed protection/restoration is accomplished through efforts at various levels including EPA, state agencies, local agencies and private organizations. In most cases watersheds do not conform to political boundaries and therefore effective solutions require cooperative efforts.

U.S. EPA

Many communities across the country struggle to find the right approaches, tools and data to include in their watershed plans. EPA recently posted a new Web site called "Watershed Central, a "one-stop" tool, to help watershed organizations and others find key resources to protect their local watershed.

For more information.

Other Federal Agencies/Programs

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps is divided into eight regional divisions. Each division is further divided in to subordinate districts. Division and district boundaries, for the most part, are determined by watersheds. The districts are the operational level of the Corps, seeing to the day-to-day activities in all of the mission areas.

Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM). To ensure the best balance of uses and resource protections for America's public lands, the BLM undertakes extensive land use planning through a collaborative approach with local, State and Tribal governments.

StatesWatershed

Total Maximum Daily Load Resource Locator (TMDL). For each pollutant that causes a water body to fail to meet water quality standards, the state must conduct a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study. A TMDL study identifies point and non-point sources of each pollutant that fails to meet water quality standards. Use this tool to find out more about the TMDL program in your state and to identify and locate impaired waters in your state.

USGS Local Offices. The USGS manages water information at offices located throughout the United States. Although all offices are tied together through a Nation-wide computer network, each collects data and conducts studies in a particular area.

Publications

USGS Water Resources Reports.

Databases and Tools

Watershed Academy. The Watershed Academy is a focal point in EPA's Office of Water for providing training and information on implementing watershed approaches.

Financial Assistance

EPA is administering Clean Water Act (CWA) grant programs in ways that encourage watershed protection. Under section 319, State, Territories, and Indian Tribes receive grant money which support a wide variety of activities including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects, and monitoring to assess the success of specific nonpoint source implementation projects.