WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 13, 2009 -- EPA has launched a new initiative called "Healthy Watersheds" that emphasizes protection and conservation of aquatic ecosystems. The initiative is being introduced on a new website, which provides information on tools to identify and protect healthy watersheds and their components.
The website provides critical information for making strategic decisions to both protect and restore our nation's waters. State officials will benefit greatly from the Healthy Watersheds initiative since they generally operate at the scale needed to implement strategic conservation decisions and are well-suited for assessing and managing watershed resources. Local governments, watershed practitioners, and regional agencies will also benefit from this initiative.
The Healthy Watersheds Approach addresses the watershed as a system of biota and habitats that are driven by critical processes such as hydrology, fluvial geomorphology, and natural disturbance regimes. Programs that protect and restore aquatic ecosystems are most effective when they recognize and integrate these dynamics and manage watersheds as systems.
While significant progress has been made in protecting and restoring water quality under the Clean Water Act, the nation continues to lose healthy aquatic ecosystems. Preserving healthy watersheds will provide the critical natural infrastructure needed to restore water quality. EPA's new initiative is predicated on the simple truth that it is much more cost-effective to protect the many benefits provided by healthy watersheds than it is to restore them once they become impaired.