Watershed Assessment Manuals & Approaches

North Coast Watershed Assessment Program Methods Manual (State of California, 2003)

This manual describes the approach and methods that are used to conduct watershed assessments under the State of California’s North Coast Watershed Assessment Program (NCWAP). It is focused on conditions affecting anadromous fish, but it will compile and provide general data useful for other natural resource planning and management functions. The purpose of the program is to develop consistent, scientifically credible information to guide landowners, agencies, watershed groups, and other stakeholders in their efforts to improve watershed and fisheries conditions. The program provides a process for collecting and analyzing information to answer a set of critical questions designed to characterize current and past watershed conditions.

Oregon Watershed Assessment Manual (Watershed Professional Network, 1999)

This assessment method is designed to be used by local citizen groups such as watershed councils and soil and water conservation districts, with some assistance from technical experts. It contains the information needed for a broad-scale screening that can be used on any landscape in Oregon, from coastal rain forest to Great Basin desert.

Washington Watershed Analysis Manual (Washington Department of Natural Resources, 1997)

DNR's Watershed Analysis Manual is a technical publication required by WAC 222-22. It is used by qualified scientists to assess the condition of public resources such as water quantity and quality and slope stability at specific sites. Forest managers use these scientific assessments to develop site-specific prescriptions that further regulate what forest practices may be carried out in individual Watershed Administrative Units (WAUs) while still protecting its public resources.

Bay Area Watersheds Science Approach (San Francisco Estuary Institute, 1998)

The SFEI Watershed Science Approach illustrates the useful knowledge that watershed analysis may produce and points a direction in which watershed management might contribute to societal views.

Ecosystem Analysis at the Watershed Scale -- The Federal Guide for Watershed Analysis (August 1995) & Ecosystem Analysis at the Watershed Scale

Federal Guide for Watershed Analysis - Section II - Analysis Methods and Techniques (November 1995)

These documents describe the approaches the federal government (US Departments of Agriculture, Interior, and Commerce) developed for the Northwest Forest Plan.

Watershed Assessment Primer (Euphrat and Warkentin, EPA, 1994)

This report describes the basics of watershed assessment but the link is not the best in terms of graphics.

Community Watershed Assessment Handbook (The Chesapeake Bay Program’s
Chesapeake 2000 Watershed Commitments Taskforce, 2003)

The handbook describes a step-wise procedure for organizing a watershed assessment including a selection of questions to guide in the identification of concerns, in gathering appropriate information, and in analyzing information to ascertain possible causes for existing or potential problems.

The Watershed Inventory Workbook for Indiana (Purdue Extension, 2002)

This manual is designed for watershed partnerships and is intended to guide these groups through the assessment process with examples of the types of information they might want to collect in response to specific questions about water quality in their watershed.

The Stream Corridor Assessment Survey manual (Maryland Department of Natural Resources, 2001)

The Stream Corridor Assessment (SCA) Survey manual is a tool that environmental managers can use to
quickly identify a variety of environmental problems within a watershed’s stream network. The survey is not intended to be a detailed scientific survey nor will it replace the more standard chemical and biological surveys. Instead, SCA is intended to provide a rapid method of examining an entire drainage network so future monitoring, management and/or conservation efforts can be better targeted.

Know Your Watershed (Conservation Technology Information Center, Purdue University)

This site offers a series of "Watershed Guides" (select from list on left side of home page) that together provide reasonable guidance for specific areas of assessment and management. The material is intended for members of watershed partnerships and provide good summaries for many issues in watershed management.

Preliminary Watershed Assessment (Fischenich, USACE, 2000)

This technical note considers watershed and reach reconnaissance techniques that possess the following principal elements:
· Cost-effective
· Facilitate comparisons among sites
· Quick, yet scientifically valid
· Easily presented to the public
· Environmentally-benign procedures

Watershed Planning Guide (California Coastal Conservancy)

A guide to the planning process - a checklist highlighting the common steps and ways to avoid the common problems. It should be modified as much as necessary to fit the particular circumstances of your watershed. It is not intended to assist in identifying particular assessment tasks or protocols.

Community-Based Watershed Management: Lessons from the National Estuary Program (NEP)

This EPA handbook is designed for individuals and organizations involved in watershed management, including states, tribes, local governments, and nongovernmental organizations. This document describes innovative approaches to watershed management implemented by the 28 National Estuary Programs (NEPs). The NEPs are community-based watershed management organizations that restore and protect coastal watersheds. 

Urban Watershed Assessment

Watershed Vulnerability Analysis (Zielinski, Center for Watershed Protection, 2002)

The Watershed Vulnerability Analysis was created primarily as a rapid planning tool for application to larger watersheds, but also contains a refinement of the techniques used in Rapid to delineate sub-watersheds, estimate current and future impervious cover (and hence likely impacts to the sub-watersheds), as well as providing guidance on factors that would alter the initial classification or diagnosis of individual sub-watersheds. Examples of application of the vulnerability analysis include instances where more than 15 or 20 sub-watersheds exist in a watershed or jurisdiction and it is necessary to group and prioritize sub- watersheds for implementation and protection.

The Practice of Watershed Protection (Center for Watershed Protection, 2000)

Impacts of urbanization on water resources, with a focus on stormwater pollution, habitat and biodiversity, are described in separate articles in the first section. Eight tools to protect or restore aquatic resources in an urban or suburban subwatershed, including watershed planning, are expanded upon in numerous articles for the majority of this 750 page book. Most of the articles were drawn from feature articles and technical notes in the CWP’s Watershed Protection Techniques, which has served as a forum to exchange ideas, data and experience about practices that work (and don’t work) and to promote the science of urban watersheds since 1994.

Rapid Watershed Planning Handbook (Center for Watershed Protection, 1999)

This comprehensive, practical manual provides an excellent guide to creating an effective watershed plan quickly and cheaply. Geared towards watershed planning professionals, Rapid Watershed Planning contains everything needed to develop a cost-effective watershed plan, including management options, analysis tools, and case studies of real-world watershed plans. Includes practical techniques for crafting an effective plan as well as guidance on plan mapping, monitoring, and modeling techniques.

Integrated Watershed Analysis

Integrated Ecological and Economic Modeling in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

As part of an EPA/NSF funded project the investigators have developed an integrated, spatially-explicit model of the Patuxent watershed, MD. They are also expanding and applying this model to the Gwynns Falls watershed in urban Baltimore as part of the NSF funded Baltimore Urban LTER project. These models and their associated data bases give a unique capability to test various policy scenarios and ecosystem restoration options at the whole watershed scale, for both a largely rural/suburban watershed (the Patuxent) and a largely urban/commercial watershed (Gwynns Falls).