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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently signed an agreement with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to establish a dedicated liaison position within the Office of Water to coordinate, participate in, and conduct research activities to identify innovations related to water regulations, programs, and planning with respect to the highway program. Separately, EPA’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds released an online document 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 EPA liaison will serve as the central point of contact to coordinate activities between the Office of Water and FHWA toward advancing common goals and protecting watersheds, and serve as the chair for an office-wide workgroup. According to EPA, establishing a liaison position is a significant step toward supporting stewardship and enhanced environmental protection in highway planning and project development. Under this agreement, the agencies will focus on integrating transportation and watershed planning and incorporating green infrastructure practices for managing stormwater. Formalizing the partnership between EPA and FHWA through this agreement builds upon the work begun under the Green Highways Partnership in the Mid-Atlantic region and offers greater opportunities to support and promote innovative practices nationwide.

EPA says its new online Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters is designed to help anyone undertaking a watershed planning effort, but should be particularly useful to persons working with impaired or threatened waters. It contains in-depth guidance on quantifying existing pollutant loads, developing estimates of the load reductions required to meet water quality standards, developing effective management measures, and tracking progress once the plan is implemented. New materials were added to the handbook, including ways to protect important elements of the landscape and aquatic habitats within a watershed. The document is available online at www.epa.gov/owow/nps/watershed_handbook.

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