The National Estuary Program (NEP) was established by Section 320 of the Water Quality Act of 1987. Section 320 authorizes the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to convene Management Conferences to develop Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plans (CCMPs) for estuaries of national significance that are threatened by pollution, development or overuse. Section 320 also outlines the estuary designation process and the purposes of the Management Conference. The justification for convening the Charlotte Harbor Management Conference was established by the Florida Governor's Nomination submitted to EPA on March 7, 1995, by the State of Florida with the cooperation of the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, Mote Marine Laboratory and the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWIM Program). On July 6, 1995, EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner named Charlotte Harbor to the National Estuary Program (CHNEP). A cooperative agreement between the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council and EPA was signed in October 1995, allowing start-up activities for the CHNEP to begin.