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Watershed-scale planning is crucial to identify sources of water quality impairments and to develop effective solutions. When plans and strategies have been developed at a basin-wide or other large geographic scale (e.g. French Broad Basin), they usually need to be refined at the smaller watershed scale to provide the information needed to develop a watershed plan (e.g. the Upper Swannanoa River Management Plan). Plans for urban and urbanizing watersheds focus more on restoration, versus plans for rural watersheds with many sensitive areas that focus more on protection. However, most watershed plans include a combination of both protection and restoration measures.

9 elements






The EPA’s 9 minimum watershed plan elements are required when developing plans for Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Source (i.e. stormwater runoff) grants, but are also widely recognized as best practice in watershed planning.

The NCDEQ Division of Water Resources has also developed a simplified guide to writing 9-element plans.





WNC Organizations and Watershed Plans

The following table highlights some of the organizations and communities involved in watershed planning in WNC.

Organizations Communities Watershed Plans
Haywood Waterways Association, Haywood Soil & Water, Southwestern RC&D Canton, Clyde, Lake Junaluska, Waynesville, Haywood County

Fines Creek
Hyatt Creek
Richland Creek
Pigeon River Watershed

Land of Sky Regional Council

Black Mountain Upper Swannanoa River Management Plan
Mountain Valleys RC&D, Madison Soil & Water Mars Hill, Weaverville Ivy River
RiverLink Asheville

Smith Mill Creek

Use Restoration Watershed Program

The NCDEQ DWR Use Restoration Watershed (URW) Program was launched to address the restoration of beneficial uses (described by the NC Surface Water Classification) of impaired waters in NC. The program aims to 1) prioritize waters for restoration 2) promote and support restoration initiatives and 3) improve documentation of restoration efforts. The URW Program is part of the Basin Planning Branch, which develops river basin water resources plans for all of NC’s river basins.


The Use Restoration Watershed Program’s interactive map identifies watersheds (by HUC12) where some type of watershed plan or study has been prepared for Clean Water Act Section 319 grants, NC Division of Mitigation watershed restoration (formerly the Ecosystem Enhancement Program), Clean Water Management Trust Fund grants, and TMDLs (total maximum daily load).

Regional Conservation & Planning

Here are a few examples of conservation efforts that benefit watersheds and water quality in WNC:


The GroWNC Regional Plan for 5 counties (Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Madison, and Transylvania) includes several water quality related strategies. Check out the Strategy Toolkit for more information.