WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created a Draft Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters to help communities; watershed organizations; and local, state, tribal, and federal environmental agencies develop and implement watershed plans to meet water quality standards and protect water resources. The draft handbook is designed to help anyone undertaking a watershed planning effort, but, according to the EPA, it should be particularly useful to persons working with impaired or threatened waters.

The EPA said that the watershed planning process uses a series of cooperative, iterative steps to characterize existing conditions, identify and prioritize problems, define management objectives, and develop and implement protection or remediation strategies as necessary. The document is structured so that it can be followed step by step though the watershed planning process or so that users can go to individual sections that highlight specific technical tools for use in the watershed planning effort.

A free copy of the handbook (EPA document number: EPA 841-B-05-005) is available from the National Service Center for Environmental Publications at 800-490-9198, or by e-mail at ncepimal@one.net . The handbook also is available online at www.epa.gov/owow/nps/watershed_handbook .