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Benefits of the Watershed Management Approach

Water Quality Management Plan

Watershed Management Approach

The Watershed Approach is a decision making process that reflects a common strategy for information collection and analysis as well as a common understanding of the roles, priorities, and responsibilities of all stakeholders within a watershed. The Watershed Approach is based on the concept that many water quality problems, like the accumulation of pollutants or nonpoint source pollution, are best addressed at the watershed level.

In addition, a watershed focus helps identify the most cost-effective pollution control strategies to meet clean water goals.

A watershed can be defined as the entire land area that ultimately drains into a particular watercourse or body of water.Watersheds can be many different shapes or sizes. Everyone lives in a watershed. Tennessee refers to watersheds by their proper name as well as by a grouping of numbers. This set of numbers is called the watershed's Hydrologic Unit Code, or HUC. The HUC can range from 2 to 16 digits long, more digits indicating a smaller and smaller portion of the watershed is represented.

Watersheds are appropriate as organizational units because they are readily identifiable landscape units with readily identifiable boundaries that integrate terrestrial, aquatic, and geologic features. Focusing on the whole watershed helps reach the best balance among efforts to control point source pollution and polluted runoff as well as protect drinking water sources and sensitive natural resources such as wetlands.

Four main features are typical of the Watershed Approach: 1) Identifying and prioritizing water quality problems in the watershed, 2) Developing increased public involvement, 3) Coordinating activities with other agencies, and 4) Measuring success through increased and more efficient monitoring and other data gathering.

An additional characteristic of the Watershed Approach is that it complements and coordinates other environmental activities. This allows for close cooperation with local citizen groups, local governments, other state agencies, and federal agencies. When all permitted dischargers are considered together, agencies are better able to focus on those controls necessary to produce measurable improvements in water quality. This also results in a more efficient process: It encourages agencies to focus staff and financial resources on prioritized geographic locations and makes it easier to coordinate between agencies and individuals with an interest in solving water quality problems.

Traditional activities like permitting, planning, and monitoring are also coordinated in the Watershed Approach. A significant change from the past is that the Watershed Approach encourages integration of traditional regulatory (those addressing point source pollution) and nonregulatory (those addressing nonpoint sources of pollution) programs.

List of Watersheds

Barren River – Group 4 (2007) North Fork Forked Deer River – Group 2 (2003)
Buffalo River – Group 3 (2005) North Fork Holston River – Group 3 (2006)
Caney Fork River – Group 2 (2003) North Fork Obion River – Group 5 (2008)
Cheatham Lake – Group 5 (2008) Obey River – Group 4 (2007)
Clear Fork of the Cumberland River – Group 4 (2007) Ocoee River – Group 1 (2002)
Collins River – Group 3 (2003) Old Hickory Lake – Group 4 (2007)
Conasauga River – Group 1 (2002) Pickwick Lake – Group 1 (2003)
Cordell Hull Lake – Group 5 (2007) Pigeon River – Group 5 (2008)
East Fork Clark's River – Group 3 (2005) Powell River – Group 4 (2007)
Emory River – Group 1 (2002) Red River – Group 4 (2007)
Forked Deer River – Group 2 (2003) Sequatchie River – Group 5 (2008)
Fort Loudoun Lake – Group 2 (2003) South Fork Cumberland River – Group 4 (2007)
Guntersville Lake – Group 5 (2008) South Fork Forked Deer River – Group 1 (2002)
Harpeth River – Group 1 (2002) South Fork Holston River – Group 2 (2003) & Group 3 (2006)
Hiwassee River – Group 2 (2003) South Fork Obion River – Group 5 (2008)
Holston River – Group 4 (2007) Stones River – Group 2 (2002)
Lake Barkley – Group 5 (2008) Tennessee Western Valley-Beech River – Group 3 (2005)
Little Tennessee River – Group 3 (2006) Tennessee Western Valley-Kentucky Lake – Group 3 (2005)
Loosahatchie River – Group 2 (2003) Upper Clinch River – Group 4 (2007)
Lower Clinch River – Group 3 (2005) Upper Cumberland River – Group 4 (2007)
Lower Duck River – Group 3 (2005) Upper Duck River – Group 4 (2005)
Lower Elk River – Group 2 (2003) Upper Elk River – Group 2 (2003)
Lower French Broad River – Group 5 (2008) Upper French Broad River – Group 5 (2008)
Lower Hatchie River – Group 4 (2007) Upper Hatchie River – Group 4 (2007)
Lower Tennessee River – Group 3 (2005) & Group 4 (2007) Watauga River – Group 1 (2002)
Mississippi River – Group 5 (2008) Watts Bar – Group 1 (2002)
Nolichucky River – Group 5 (2008) Wheeler Lake – Group 1 (2003)
Nonconnah Creek – Group 1 (2002) Wolf River – Group 3 (2005)

EPA Approved Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)

Listed at the bottom of each watershed page.