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Targeted Watershed Contents


General Overview

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Bureau of Water began the process of restructuring its program activities in all areas around a priority watershed management approach in 1993. This restructuring includes both water pollution control and drinking water programs and focuses on restorative as well as preventative measures directed to both surface and groundwater resources.

This report describes the framework for prioritizing program activities utilizing a Targeted Watershed Approach (TWA). The Illinois EPA is committed to directing available resources within Bureau of Water programs to watersheds where the greatest environmental benefit can be realized. To the extent that flexibility is available in our mandated and delegated responsibilities under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), and state statutes, the Illinois EPA targets those programs and watersheds that have the greatest impact on human health issues and ecosystem protection. Therefore, watersheds are targeted for specific action while using the balance of available programmatic resources to maintain a statewide baseline program.


The TWA significantly broadens the scope, purpose, and geographic targeting of the Bureau of Water's program activities from efforts prior to 1993. Besides placing increased emphasis on preventative measures, the TWA expands the scope of geographic targeting from existing Federal requirements under Section 303(d) of the CWA. This Section requires states to identify water quality limited waters, establish a priority ranking for such waters, and target watersheds for development of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) (Illinois EPA, 1996). Ranking of these water quality limited waters on a statewide basis results in the major water quality problems being identified in only a few parts of the state. The 303(d) process, which focuses on water quality problems and restorative measures, is used in conjunction with criteria for existing high quality resources and protection measures to provide a more comprehensive approach to geographic targeted and prioritization of water resources (rivers, streams, Lake Michigan, inland lakes and groundwater).

Prioritization of watersheds was conducted on a program basis including the point source, nonpoint source, lakes, and drinking water programs. The TWA will be generally used to direct program activities on a watershed basis as follows:

  • Point Source Control Programs - Emphasis will be placed on managing those point sources that cause or contribute to water quality problems in priority watersheds. These sources will include both major industrial and municipal dischargers and significant minor dischargers. The Bureau of Water will track progress in reducing impacts from these sources as a measure of success in implementing this aspect of the watershed program. By diverting resources to problem dischargers in priority watersheds, we expect that there will be some reduction in historic work effort devoted to major discharges that are not in priority watersheds. However, we intend to ensure that inspections are conducted and expiring permits are reissued on at least 80% of all major dischargers.
  • Nonpoint Source Programs - Illinois EPA proposes to expand nonpoint source management programs using funding made available from program grants and Section 319 of the CWA. Additional base program activities in those priority watersheds impacted by nonpoint sources will include: expanded monitoring; consultation and technology transfer/awareness programs directed at contributing watershed landowners; intergovernmental working agreements; increased attention to storm water sources; and accelerated implementation of program activities identified in the approved Nonpoint Source Management Program (Illinois EPA, 1994). Section 319 projects will place emphasis on correction of specific watershed problems and development of watershed implementation plans.
  • Lake Management Programs - The Governors "Conservation 2000" program, initiated in SFY ‘96, provides a wide range of conservation initiatives to be implemented by the Illinois Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources as well as the Illinois EPA. Many of these activities are expected to directly or indirectly impact the watershed program, particularly in the area of nonpoint source control. Conservation 2000 includes funding to implement the Lake Management Framework Plan, a comprehensive interagency program for improvement of Illinois inland lake resources (Illinois EPA, 1991). Lakes within priority watersheds will be given first access to the funding and technical assistance provided by the Conservation 2000 program.
  • Drinking Water Programs/Source Water Protection - The Bureau of Water will begin aggressive implementation of a source water protection program under the newly re-authorized SDWA. Monitoring flexibility will continue to be based on implementation of effective source water protection programs. Technical assistance and outreach in the form of source water protection area delineations and potential source identification will be enhanced. Illinois TWA is unique in that it integrates surface water programs with groundwater programs aimed at the protection of public water supplies. In many cases, local involvement in wellhead and recharge protection programs as well as protection of watersheds tributary to surface water supplies is a critical component of a Watershed Implementation Plan within a priority watershed.

Coordination Within Bureau of Water Programs

In addition to prioritizing specific programs areas as identified above, the TWA also identifies watersheds where Bureau of Water programs need to be coordinated (i.e. watersheds that are identified as a priority for more than one Bureau of Water program). This component of the TWA will be an important tool for implementation of the Illinois EPA’s Watershed Management Approach, which addresses the total spectrum of water resource management issues.

Inter-Agency Coordination

The TWA will be utilized by the Illinois EPA for the coordination of its priorities with the priorities of other federal, state and regional agencies. As part of the process for identification of high quality streams, the TWA incorporates the State Protected Streams list developed by an inter-agency committee of the Natural Resource Coordinating Council (Report on State Protected Streams, 1995).

Goals and Objectives

The goal of the TWA is to focus programs and resources to those areas having the greatest need for correction, protection or restoration while continuing statewide program activities.

Objectives for the utilization of this approach in Illinois are to:

  • Identify watersheds with the most critical water quality problems and direct programs and resources to the solution of those problems.
  • Direct programs and resources to those watersheds considered to have the highest potential for improvement.
  • Protect existing high quality water resources through a preventative approach to water quality management.
  • Identify watersheds where there is a need to coordinate multiple program priorities.

Public Involvement

Watershed priorities identified through the TWA will be re-evaluated by the Illinois EPA on an annual basis. This annual review will incorporate any new monitoring information collected from the previous year to keep the watershed prioritization process current. Watershed priorities will be made available for public review and comment through the Bureau of Waters annual program hearing. Public comments can be provided orally or in written form during the formal hearing process or submitted in writing within 30 days of the hearing.

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