Our work must enhance the scientific, technical and policy tools used by federal, state and local government officials to protect healthy watersheds. It must also educate, engage and involve local communities in healthy watershed protection.
Government Agency Engagement
- Federal engagement. If we are to fully protect healthy watersheds, we must engage federal agencies beyond the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and deliver a unified message about the importance of protecting state-identified healthy watersheds across the Chesapeake Bay region to all key federal actors.
- State engagement. Watershed states have adopted different approaches toward defining and identifying healthy watersheds. States have also adopted different plans to assess and monitor these watersheds over time. Our work will encourage and support states as they implement and improve their assessment and monitoring programs and help fill gaps as shared interests and priorities are developed.
- Local engagement. Local communities play a vital role in identifying and protecting highly valued waterways and watersheds. Our work will focus on understanding how to effectively convey information about the status of healthy watersheds across the Chesapeake Bay region, as well as identifying the various tools that may be used, primarily by local governments, to protect these watersheds.
Public and Landowner Engagement
The values associated with maintaining healthy watersheds must be conveyed to local communities and landowners. Our communications and outreach efforts will focus on ensuring landowners are informed of practices that maintain and protect high-quality waters on or adjacent to their property.
Scientific and Technical Understanding
- Population growth. Population growth is associated with development and land use change. The amount, type and way that land use change occurs is the single biggest factor affecting healthy watersheds, and our understanding of these impacts must be improved.
- Locating healthy watersheds. While states have worked to monitor, assess and determine the status of watershed health, sustained monitoring is needed to determine whether state-identified healthy waters and watersheds are still healthy, whether additional waters and watersheds have become healthy and whether unassessed waters and watersheds can be considered healthy.
- Determining the vulnerabilities of healthy watersheds. More information is needed about the factors that put healthy waters and watersheds at risk, including urban growth proximity, energy development trends, infrastructure plans, water demand forecasts, invasive species threats and climate change.
- Prioritizing the protection of healthy watersheds. Information about vulnerable watersheds must be shared with stakeholders and used to prioritize their protection.
- Furthering technical assessment activities to determine state vulnerabilities, needs and capacity.
The usage of existing resource management tools is not universal among Chesapeake Bay Program partners. Some tools and communications resources are underdeveloped, poorly supported or unsuitable for sharing or integration. Our work will focus on cross-outcome coordination and alignment for multiple benefits, analysis and data products.
While the Chesapeake Bay Program is working to integrate living resource priorities with efforts to implement the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), staff support and financial resources have primarily focused on nutrient and sediment reductions. Our work will focus on developing outreach materials that support Watershed Implementation Plan development and implementation and explain how protecting healthy watersheds can also support water quality goals.
Additional financial resources could allow state and local governments to better monitor and manage healthy watersheds and incentivize and credit conservation.
Healthy Watersheds outcome:
Factors Influencing Progress
Several factors could impact our ability to maintain state-identified healthy waters and watersheds. These factors have directly informed the management actions our partners will take to achieve the Healthy Watersheds outcome.