The Watershed Resources Registry was developed through a collaborative interagency effort to achieve increased regulatory efficiencies through integration of Clean Water Act Sections 401, 402, and 404 (303(d), 319, etc.) in a watershed context – thereby also enabling greener (more sustainable) management of aquatic and related ecological resources. It is a comprehensive replicable framework and GIS-based targeting tool that:
- Integrates and streamlines regulatory programs
- Guides resource planners
- Saves time and $$, and increases program efficiencies
- Screens for preferred actions and maximizes watershed benefits
- Is transparent, predictable and reliable
- Facilitates multiagency input and coordination
The panel will include WRR leaders, developers and practitioners to share and discuss elements, examples and status of this tool being adopted by regions around the US, given its ability to save time and money, while driving improved collaboration around science-based decision-making.
The Watershed Resources Registry (WRR), is a partnership of agencies that developed a framework for integrated watershed management. The GIS based targeting tool was developed to analyze watersheds and identify the best opportunities for the protection of high-quality resources, restoration of impaired resources, resource conservation and environmental resource planning, and improvement of stormwater management. The WRR is intended to integrate the Clean Water Act (CWA) authorities by facilitating implementation of CWA Sections 319, 401, 402,and 404, TMDL implementation practices, and multiple state programs. The WRR identifies ecological opportunity areas throughout 8 States and scores each opportunity area with a ranking from one to five stars with five stars indicating the greatest ecological value. The WRR analyses were created based on criteria established by Technical Advisory Committees consisting of state and federal representatives from the partnering agencies in Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and New Jersey (scheduled publication, spring 2021). Initiated by leadership in EPA Region 3, the WRR is currently being rolled out by EPA Regions 3, 2, 4, with the support of EPA Headquarters in Washington, DC. Partnering agencies include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Districts, the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, and numerous State resource and regulatory partnering agencies, including MD DOT. The WRR provides a transferrable framework that could be employed in other regions as a means to overcome limitations of existing regulatory frameworks that often result in a stovepipe approach to managing resources and issuing permits. The framework requires that individuals from an array of agencies be proactively engaged up front in order to cooperatively identify shared, overlapping, or complementary goals of the traditionally competing regulations that govern their work. The comprehensive program coverage and buy-in during the development of the tool helps ensure its functionality and utility in achieving synergistic ecological benefits, along with regulatory streamlining within the scope of a diverse set of programs. The “watershed-driven” framework can therefore serve as a strategy to be used by entities as they move forward to develop unique registries tailored to the needs of their specific states, regions and localities. This presentation seeks to describe the process of establishing a WRR and will include examples of its use. Interested attendees can learn more by visiting https://watershedresourcesregistry.org and become part of the movement!
Dominique Lueckenhoff, Senior Vice-President for Corporate Affairs & Sustainability & Former US EPA Water Regulatory Official and WRR Champion
Sandy Hertz, Assistant Director, Office of the Environment, Maryland Department of Transportation
Michael Herzberger, GISP, CFM, Division Chief, Geospatial and Engineering Services, Maryland Environmental Service