Maintain Healthy Watersheds Goal Implementation Team (GIT 4)
Preliminary Healthy Watersheds Assessment for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
In 2017, the EPA Healthy Watersheds Program published the results of their Preliminary Healthy Watersheds Assessments (PHWA) project, a set of watershed health and vulnerability assessments across the United States. The PHWA was designed to help states implement the Clean Water Act’s goal of maintaining high quality waters and to provide a foundation of nationally consistent data that can be built on and enhanced. The HWGIT agreed that utilizing the results of the PHWA along with additional jurisdictional data could address major gaps identified in the Healthy Watershed’s Management Strategy. HWGIT staff and state leads are working with a contractor, Tetra Tech, to (1) integrate state data in to the PHWA to summarize conditions of state-identified healthy watersheds, (2) identify state-identified healthy watershed vulnerabilities, and (3) develop an approach that can be utilized in the future to determine if state-identified healthy watersheds are being maintained.
Map of State-Identified Currently Healthy Waters and Watersheds (2017)
The most current (2017) map of state-identified healthy waters and watersheds. The Healthy Watersheds Outcome in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement states that one hundred percent of these waters and watersheds will remain healthy.
Conservation Land-Use Policy Toolkit
This toolkit provides local governments in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed with information about land use policy tools they can use to slow the conversion of farmland, forestland, and wetlands.
Healthy Watersheds Forestry TMDL Forest Retention Study: Methodology, Findings and Recommendations
(09/23/15) A status report on a project funded by the Maintain Healthy Watersheds Goal Implementation Team. The goal of the project was to model and test alternative land use growth scenarios in a portion of the Rappahannock River Basin as a proxy for the Chesapeake Bay watershed by employing the methodology used by EPA TMDL modelers and using real land use data from the localities in the test area to determine the potentail value of a BMP in the TMDL model for retaining forestland.
Healthy Watersheds Forestry TMDL Forest Retention Study: Phase 2 Final Report
A Virginia and Pennsylvania partnership focused on expanding the use of forestland to meet Chesapeake Bay Watershed goals from the perspective of the local leaders who are responsible for making it happen.
Summary Report: Potomac Watershed Assessment Methodology
The Nature Conservancy conducted a watershed assessment to delineate healthy watersheds in the Potomac watershed portion of West Virginia. This project was funded by the Maintain Healthy Watersheds GIT in 2014 and was completed in the fall of 2015. The methodology used was the same as the one applied in the West Virginia Watershed Assessment Pilot Project. As part of this project a comprehensive 39 metric index of overall watershed health was created.
Economic Benefits of Protecting Healthy Watersheds: A Literature Review
This paper explores the various methods that have been used to quantify the value of ecosystem services. Specifically, it examines payment for ecosystem service schemes, willingness to pay studies and cost avoidance scenarios. Cost avoidance scenarios, although generally considered to capture only the lower bounds of actual value, are used to communicate a clear message to society about the potential costs of losing an ecosystem service and replacing that service. Many case studies that examine the costs of replacing ecosystem services highlight the economic benefits of protecting healthy watersheds.
Map of State-Identified Currently Healthy Waters and Watersheds (2015)
The 2015 map of state-identified healthy waters and watersheds. The Healthy Watersheds Outcome in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement states that one hundred percent of these waters and watersheds will remain healthy.
Approach to Chesapeake Bay Land Use Policy Tasks
Tetra Tech has developed an approach for (1) conducting surveys to identify policy options, incentives, and planning tools effective at reducing land conversion, (2) conducting a study to determine the range of existing policy options, incentives, and planning tools that are currently being implemented, and (3) creating an online repository of such examples to serve as a user-friendly knowledge base.
Map of State-Identified Healthy Watersheds with Protected Lands
Tracking Healthy Waters Protections in the Chesapeake Bay
A team of graduate students in the Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy at the College of William & Mary surveyed local government staff in 23 Chesapeake Bay Watershed localities in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Four categories of watershed protection tools were tested across all states: watershed management, zoning ordinances, development management, and natural resources protection. On average, localities utilized less than half of the policies categorized as watershed management and development management. Development management and natural resources protection policies were almost universally used. Local policies varied in their level of stringency and enforcement. A number of state regulations mandated the use of certain policies, and localities differed widely in their use of local regulatory authority to have more restrictive policies. The most successful localities blended mandates with incentives and advisory services, while gearing action and awareness specifically toward watershed protection.
Susquehanna River Basin Ecological Flow Management Study
As the single largest freshwater input to the Chesapeake Bay, the Susquehanna River is a key tributary to one of the nation’s most important estuaries. Natural hydrologic variability is a fundamental component of any river system’s ecological health. Aquatic species and natural communities have evolved in concert with naturally variable flows, and the ecological health of a river system depends on an intact hydrologic regime. This study is focused on ecological flow needs, often called environmental flows, and other water resource needs are not explicitly considered.
The Role of Natural Landscape Features in the Fate and Transport of Nutrients and Sediment
In response to a request from the Chesapeake Bay Program’s (CBP) Maintain Healthy Watersheds Goal Implementation Team (GIT4), the CBP’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) sponsored a workshop on March 7-8, 2012 to consider whether there is a scientific basis for changing how the Chesapeake Bay Program Watershed Model assigns nutrient and/or sediment loading rates of natural landscape features based on their ecological health/condition, management status, and/or landscape position.
The workshop agenda included plenary sessions with expert panels on the fate and transport of nutrients and sediments by natural landscape features - forests, riparian buffers, streams, and wetlands – one panel on landscape ecology, and one presentation on how the current Chesapeake Bay Program Watershed Model estimates nutrient and sediment loading rates. Workshop participants then dispersed into breakout groups, one for each landscape feature, to discuss the following questions:
- What changes could be made to the existing Chesapeake Bay Program Watershed Model to better simulate the functioning of natural landscapes?
- What functions should be considered in any future modeling effort?
- What questions need to be addressed by the scientific community before any model or tool can appropriately simulate or account for natural landscape functions?
Cost of Community Services: AFT Report
Cost of Community Services (COCS) studies are a case study approach used to determine the fiscal contribution of existing local land uses. A subset of the much larger field of fiscal analysis, COCS studies have emerged as an inexpensive and reliable tool to measure direct fiscal relationships. Their particular niche is to evaluate working and open lands on equal ground with residential, commercial and industrial land uses. COCS studies are a snapshot in time of costs versus revenues for each type of land use. They do not predict future costs or revenues or the impact of future growth. They do provide a baseline of current information to help local officials and citizens make informed land use and policy decisions.
Identifying and Protecting Healthy Watersheds: Concepts, Assessments, and Management Approaches
This technical document was developed to help implement the Healthy Watersheds Initiative (HWI) by providing EPA and state water quality and aquatic resource scientists and managers with an overview of the key concepts behind the HWI, examples of approaches for assessing components of healthy watersheds, integrated assessment options for identifying healthy watersheds, examples of management approaches, and some assessment tools and sources of data. This document summarizes the many examples from across the country of state, local government, and others efforts to assess, identify, and protect healthy watersheds by understanding their systems context. This document can assist in those efforts and also serve as a resource for other states and their partners interested in conducting healthy watersheds assessments and implementing holistic, systems-based healthy watersheds protection programs.
Conewango Creek Initative’s Conservation Toolbox for Municipalities
The Conewago Initiative has put together a toolbox to provide ideas and guidance on how to make improvements to communities surrounding Conewago Creek. The tools are organized by five key goals developed to meet the vision for the Conewago watershed. For each tool, three tiers are provided, each describing various levels of municipal involvement and investement needed. Links to resources, suggestions on posiible partners, and contact information is also provided for each tool.
Cheverly Green Infrastructure Plan
The town of Cheverly Maryland created a Green Infrastructure Plan that helps elected officials, town staff, community organizations, and residents to consider the town's need as a whole. It provides a comprehensive framework for protecting green space, managing water resources, and making land use decisions. The plan is intended as a living document and will enable the town to better meet future challenges and to recognize and take full advantage of opportunities.
This is a collection of healthy watershed identification and protection case studies presented at the Maintain Healthy Watersheds GIT quarterly meetings.
The following documents describe the Maintain Healthy Watersheds GIT strategic plan through a strategy for 2013, collective activities, the decision framework, and guidance from CBP and the Management Board on adaptive management.