Watershed Central, Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect our Waters, and Watershed Plan Builder

Posted on: 8/01/2017 - Updated on: 2/27/2020

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Watershed Central, run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is an online portal that houses a large variety of information related to watershed management. Useful for regional, state, and local officials as well as the public, Watershed Central provides links to resources, tools, data, guidance, funding recommendations, training opportunities, and online support communities focused on developing and implementing comprehensive watershed management plans.

Two key components of Watershed Central include the Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect our Waters and the companion online Watershed Plan Builder. The Handbook, available for free download in PDF form, outlines watershed planning processes and provides guidance for watershed plan development efforts at numerous levels (e.g., communities, local/state/tribal/federal agencies), and includes particular detail on developing plans for impaired or threatened watersheds. The Watershed Plan Builder, an ESRI-powered interactive online tool built to accompany the Handbook, helps users develop a customized watershed plan outline with integrated mapping components. The Watershed Plan Builder gathers a variety of user- and watershed-specific information (including drivers for creating a watershed plan, regulatory watershed requirements, watershed activities, water and air quality concerns, land/habitat considerations, and stakeholder information) to form a customized watershed management plan outline. The Builder also allows users to interact with and integrate different mapping outputs, such as maps of different layers related to water quality, facility locations, and watershed boundaries, into their plan outline, providing a visual companion to the outline text. The Watershed Plan Builder is free and projects can be saved for later viewing and/or alteration.

Phase of Adaptation: Planning


Local/state/regional/tribal authorities, planners and policymakers, natural resource managers, public, public health officials


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


The Environmental Protection Agency has ten Regional offices, each of which is responsible for the execution of the Agency's programs within several states and territories.