Watershed Protection Plan


A watershed protection plan (WPP) is a document designed to encourage current and future protection of water resources that are not impaired. However, these resources may be threatened by current/future nonpoint and other pollution sources, and if not mitigated, will likely become impaired. WPPs are voluntary efforts that focus on protection and sustainability. In most cases, local citizens work with and encourages local decision makers to practice low impact development and implement BMPs that protect and sustain the resources. WPPs may also include projects that will improve and protect damaged or threatened areas.

By developing an approved WPP, stakeholders may be eligible for current and future §319 funding to support the plans efforts. The format of the example document includes an introduction that includes a description and geographic extent of the watershed and the nine elements featured on this page.

Contact Us

Watershed Improvement Branch
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection
Division of Water & Waste Management
601 57th Street SE
Charleston, WV 25304
Phone: (304) 926-0499

See Also

Watershed Protection Plan Resources

  • EPA Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters

    This handbook helps communities, watershed organizations, and environmental agencies develop and implement watershed plans to meet water quality standards and protect water resources, and should be particularly useful to organizations that work to restore impaired or threatened waters.

  • Elk Headwaters Watershed Protection Plan

    This protection plan operates as a watershed-based plan, and serves as a single document that references previous Elk Headwaters Watershed Association watershed planning and analysis activities. This protection plan is in addition to a binder of documents, tools, and resources, and refers to the deliverables from various planning and analysis activities since 2008.

  • Watershed Based Plan Introduction Document

    Example Watershed Protection Plan Introduction Document

  • National Wild and Scenic Rivers System

    The country changed in the 1960s, including our treatment of the environment, leading to the Wilderness, Clean Air, Clean Water and National Environmental Policy Acts – and the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act.

  • Public Law 90-542; 16 USC 1271 et seq

    The Wild and Scenic River Act was created by Congress in 1968 to preserve rivers with outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. There is a rigerous nomination process. The National Park Service recommends developing State, Federal and local partnerships to nominate your river-candidate​. In West Virginia, the Bluestone River is the only Wild and Scenic designee.

Elements of a Watershed Protection Plan

Potential Causes and Sources

Identify the potential causes and sources or groups of similar sources that will need to be controlled to achieve any watershed goals identified in the plan, as discussed immediately below. Sources that need to be controlled should be identified at the significant subcategory level with estimates of the extent to which they are present in the watershed. In the case of a protection plan these may be threats as opposed to actual sources of pollutants.

Load Reductions

Estimate of the loads reductions expected for the management measures described below (recognizing the natural variability and the difficulty in precisely predicting the performance of management measures over time). Estimates should be provided at the same level as in item above. This step will be difficult since there is no TMDL; however, baseline conditions need to be established.

Management Measures

Description of the management measures that will need to be implemented to achieve the watershed goals identified in this protection plan, and an identification (using a map or description) of the critical areas in which those measures will be needed to implement this plan. Discuss how the proposed management measures, when implemented, will protect and perhaps improve water quality goals should also be included here.

Technical and Financial Assistance

Estimate of the amounts of technical and financial assistance needed; associated cost, and/or the sources and authorities that will be relied upon to implement this plan. As sources of funding, States should consider the use of their Section 319 programs, State Revolving Funds, USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Reserve Program, and other relevant Federal, State, local and private funds that may be available to assist in implementing this plan.

Outreach and Education

An information/education component that will be used to enhance public understanding of the project and encourage their early and continued participation in selecting, designing, and implementing the nonpoint management measures that will be implemented.


A schedule for implementing the nonpoint management measures identified in this plan that is reasonably expeditious.


Description of interim, measurable milestones for determining whether nonpoint management measures or other control actions are being implemented.

Adaptive Management

Set of criteria that can be used to determine whether watershed goals are being achieved over time and substantial progress is being made towards protecting water quality standards and, if not, the criteria for determining whether this plan needs to be revised.


A monitoring plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation efforts over time, measured against the criteria established above. ​