Watershed Management Framework

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Since the late 1980s, watershed organizations, tribes, and federal and state agencies have moved toward managing water quality by using a watershed approach. A watershed approach is a flexible framework for managing water resource quality and quantity within specified drainage areas, or watersheds. This approach includes stakeholder involvement and management actions supported by sound science and appropriate technology. The watershed planning process works within this framework by using a series of cooperative, iterative steps to characterize existing conditions, identify and prioritize problems, define management objectives, develop protection or remediation strategies, and implement and adapt selected actions as necessary.

The outcomes of this process are documented or referenced in a watershed plan. A watershed plan is a strategy that provides assessment and management information for a geographically defined watershed, including the analyses, actions, participants, and resources related to developing and implementing the plan.

The steps in the watershed planning and implementation process are listed below.

Build Partnerships

Characterize the Watershed

Set Goals and Identify Solutions

Design an Implementation Program

Implement the Watershed Plan

Measure Progress and Make Adjustments