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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
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
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.