Healthy Watersheds Consortium 2020 Newsletter

EPA Updated Watersheds Data Available

EPA announces the completion of Version 2.1 of the Watershed Health Index Online (WSIO). WSIO provides 436 indicators at the HUC12 level for all watersheds in the lower 48 states, including land cover, protected lands, impervious surface, drinking water sources and many more.  

Many of these WSIO indicators can be readily applied to compare watersheds using the Recovery Potential Screening (RPS) Tool, a systematic method and tool for comparing watersheds based on characteristics relevant to successful restoration or protection which are now downloadable from the RPS website.

For more information, please visit the RPS, HWP and WSIO websites (all three easily accessed from one healthy watersheds hub). 

USDA Forest Service Updated “Forests to Faucets” Data released

Forests to Faucets premiered in 2011 to portray the relationship between forests and source water across the U.S. The updated version 2.0 (F2F2) dataset released in April assesses all 88,000 HUC12 watersheds in the U.S. to identify those forests important to downstream surface drinking water supplies and evaluate each watershed’s natural ability to produce clean water. F2F2 includes future risks to watersheds such as development, wildfire or climate-induced changes to water quantity. More information available, here.

State Forest Action Plans and Drinking Water Protection

State Forest Action Plans (SFAPs) were developed in 2010 and are being updated by most state forest agencies in 2020. One of the original national themes of the plans is to “enhance the public benefits from trees and forests,” which includes protecting and enhancing water quality and quantity. The Healthy Watersheds team worked with the Source Water Collaborative and the National Association of State Foresters to develop a guidance memo with recommendations, state drinking water contacts, data resources and examples from some of the SFAPs. The deadline for these plan updates was recently extended until the end of December 2020. Now and through the summer is a good time to connect with your state forest agency on incorporating the protection of drinking water supplies into the plans.  More information is available at the National Association of State Foresters’ website.

American Water Resources Association (AWRA): Watershed Protection and Finance

AWRA recently published several articles related to watershed protection and conservation finance including one about the Healthy Watersheds Consortium and several Healthy Watersheds grantees.  

American Water Works Association (AWWA): USDA Funding for Source Water

AWWA recently published a paper on source water protection and funding through USDA programs providing several examples of watershed projects funded to date and advice on how to access those funds in the future. 

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Source Water Protection

NRCS continues to make funds available for source water protection through its National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) funding opportunity: NRCS NWQI Bulletin. This year each NRCS state office is required to submit a minimum of three watersheds for NWQI by July 3rd. The NWQI targets Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funding for landowners to address drinking water quality with no match requirements. Watersheds can be submitted for either the “planning” phase (formerly called “readiness” phase) or “implementation” phase. Planning phase proposals are capped at $50,000 per assessment. Projects must be endorsed by NRCS so if you have project ideas contact your state NRCS office ASAP: NRCS State Conservationists office

AWWA Releases “Drinking Water at the Source” Publication

A concise new brochure from the American Water Works Association focuses on providing agricultural partners with information on the importance of source water protection. There are great stats on water use (e.g. 87% of the U.S. population relies on a public water supply), info on potential agricultural impacts to source water, and source water protection criteria, among other valuable information.    

For more information, contact:

Peter Stangel,  404-915-2763,
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) is a not-for-profit public charity working collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative, and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and forest-rich communities —

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