A strong watershed management plan (or WMP) is comprehensive without being painfully long, inclusive while remaining focused, and above all strategic to promote functional restoration and long-term protection. Use the Indiana Watershed Planning Guide to lead you through the process of writing a plan. Groups utilizing Section 319 funds to complete a WMP will also need to follow Indiana’s Section 319 Watershed Management Plan Requirements. Groups that wish to apply for 319 funds to implement their plan should also make sure that their WMP meets Indiana’s checklist in order to be eligible for funding. If you need help, IDEM has staff that can answer all types of questions related to watershed planning. As you write your plan, you’ll have a unique opportunity to change attitudes, opinions, and the knowledge people have in your watershed – find out how to gauge your program by reading more on social indicators.
Additional guidance, tools and references from other plans are also listed below.
Nonpoint source pollution abatement in Indiana is mostly voluntary; nothing will get done in your watershed unless the people who live in it are involved in your efforts.
The most important places to restore and protect are known as “critical areas.” Work in these locations should give you the most bang for the buck, both in terms of potential water quality improvements and landowners willing to implement best management practices. Even so, many groups have a hard time narrowing their focus to specific geographical locations. Eagle Cree [PDF] and Big Walnut [DOC] groups have laid out their strategy for prioritizing areas of work in their watersheds; if you are struggling, take a look at what they’ve done. For prioritizing specific land uses (i.e. forested riparian buffers and wetlands), use the tools outlined below:
Early on, you developed a vision for your watershed. Now is the time to figure out what you need to do to get there. Good goals are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. “Specific” (versus vague) goals tell you some manageable piece of what you want to do (i.e. “reduce nutrients in Mudbug Creek” vs. “clean up the watershed”). You know a goal is measurable if you have a quantity attached to it (e.g. “Reduce total suspended solids to less than 30 mg/L”) Attainable goals are those within your reach. Goals are relevant when they speak to a need required to attain your vision. Finally, goals need to include a timeframe in the not-to-distant future so that you remain motivated to achieve them. For more information on how to set goals, check out Chapter 9 of the U.S. EPA Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters (Set Goals and Identify Load Reductions) [PDF] and Chapter 6 of the Indiana Watershed Planning Guide (Goal-setting for Success) [PDF].
The action register is a table that includes all of the steps you need to take to accomplish your goals. It breaks large goals down into smaller objectives and individual action steps needed to meet those objectives. It includes a timeframe, responsible party, technical assistance needed and cost of the objectives. You can see an example of a good action register in the Big Walnut Creek WMP [DOC]. See the narrative and tables from this WMP for an idea of how to develop your watershed plan action register.
The U.S. EPA requires watershed management plans to estimate existing loads in the watershed and load reductions necessary to bring the waterbody into compliance with water quality standards and designated uses. A “load” is different than a “concentration.” A concentration tells us how much of a pollutant is in the water and is expressed as mass/volume (e.g. mg/L or CFU/100 mL). A load brings in the dimension of time and measures how much of a pollutant passes by a certain point in a given amount of time. A load might be expressed, for example, in lbs/day. In very simple terms, the load is concentration x flow (discharge). Often, load estimates and reductions are calculated using models. The models listed below are the ones often used in Indiana. However, there is no one-size-fits-all method for calculating loads. Whether you need background information on how to estimate pollutant loads or guidance on selecting the best method for your particular watershed, Chapter 8 U.S. EPA Handbook (Estimate Pollutant Loads) [PDF] is a great place to start.