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Developing an Approvable Watershed Management Plan

Contact: Pete Vincent, 517-512-3969


Watershed management planning is essential to helping communities understand and address the impacts nonpoint source (NPS) pollutants have on local rivers, lakes, wetlands, and groundwater.  The NPS Pollution Program promotes the development of watershed management plans with the primary goals of restoring and protecting designated uses from the impacts of NPS pollutants.  Michigan's NPS Program provides technical assistance to stakeholders developing and implementing watershed management plans.  The NPS Program approves watershed management plans based on the State's Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) nine-element criteria.

Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) Approval

Section 8808 of Part 88, Water Pollution and Environmental Protection Act, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended, MCL 324.8808, provides EGLE the authority to establish a NPS pollution prevention and control grants program with CMI funds.  CMI rules establish criteria for approving watershed management plans that address NPS pollutants.  Guidance on developing a CMI approvable watershed management plan is outlined in Developing a Watershed Management Plan for Water Quality.

Nine-Element Approval

Under Section 319 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act), the USEPA provides funding to Michigan's NPS Program for the implementation of nine-element watershed management plans.  The nine-elements are outlined in the USEPA's 2014 NPS Program and Grant Guidelines for State and Territories Appendix C.  The NPS Program established criteria for approving a nine-element watershed management plan.  Organizations seeking 319 implementation funds must have an approved nine-element watershed management plan.

Guidance on nine-element plan development is provided in the USEPA's Handbook for Developing Watershed Management Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters.  The NPS Program is generating guidance on developing nine-element watershed management plans.  Completed guidance documents address the appropriate scale of a nine-element plan, watershed characterizationloading model selection for estimating NPS pollutant loads and minimal information to collect during field inventories to estimate loads using the Pollutant Load Estimation Tool (PLET).

EGLE awards a limited amount of 319 funding to develop technical updates of approved nine-element watershed management plans.  Examples of technical updates include; field inventories to identify the sources of NPS pollutant and water quality monitoring to better identify source areas of a pollutant.

The NPS Program has developed a reference sheet outlining CMI, Nine-Element, and Phase II watershed management plan requirements.