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Water quality is a reflection of its watershed. This is true whether talking about surface water (rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands) or groundwater. A watershed is the area that drains to a waterbody. Almost all watersheds deliver a variety of pollution to their downstream waterbodies. It is rare for any surface waters to be impacted by only one source of pollution. With few exceptions, every land-use activity is a potential source of water pollution. The Illinois EPA is using watershed management to reduce water pollution.

Watershed management involves all aspects of the Bureau of Water's activities, including permitting, compliance, inspections, surveys, and stream investigations of water pollution as well as public water supply facilities and nontraditional activities such as watershed resource inventories, watershed management planning and implementation of watershed management plans.

While the Illinois EPA continues to focus on traditional programs, the Agency has become more involved with local watershed management planning committees in an effort to involve citizens of a watershed in the protection of their local water resources.

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