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Benefits of the Watershed Management Approach

Benefits of the Watershed Approach include:

  • Focus on water quality goals and ecological integrity rather than on program activities such as number of permits issued.
  • Improve basis for management decisions through consideration of both point and nonpoint source stressors. A watershed strategy improves the scientific basis for decision making and focuses management efforts on basins and watersheds where they are most needed. Both point and nonpoint control strategies are more effective under a watershed approach because the Approach promotes timely and focused development of TMDLs.
  • Enhance program efficiency, as the focus becomes watershed. A watershed focus can improve the efficiency of water management programs by facilitating consolidation of programs within each watershed. For example, handling all point source dischargers in a watershed at the same time reduces administrative costs due to the potential to combine hearings and notices as well as allowing staff to focus on more limited areas in a sequential fashion.
  • Improve coordination between federal, state and local agencies, including data sharing and pooling of resources. As the focus shifts to watersheds, agencies are better able to participate in data sharing and coordinated assessment and control strategies.
  • Increase public involvement. The Watershed Approach provides opportunities for stakeholders to increase their awareness of water-related issues and inform staff about their knowledge of the watershed. Participation is by way of public meetings over the five-year watershed management cycle as well as meetings at stakeholder's request. Additional opportunities are provided through the Department of Environment and Conservation homepage and direct contact with local Environmental Assistance Centers.
  • Greater consistency and responsiveness. Developing goals and management plans for a basin or watershed with stakeholder involvement results in increased responsiveness to the public and consistency in determining management actions. In return, stakeholders can expect improved consistency and continuity in decisions when management actions follow a watershed plan.
  • The Watershed Approach represents awareness that restoring and maintaining our waters requires crossing traditional barriers (point vs. nonpoint sources of pollution) when designing solutions. These solutions increasingly rely on participation by both public and private sectors, where citizens, elected officials and technical personnel all have opportunity to participate. This integrated approach mirrors the complicated relationships in which people live, work and recreate in the watershed, and suggests a comprehensive, watershed-based and community-based approach is needed to address these.