WatershedsHealthy wetlands are an integral component of healthy watersheds and provide many essential ecosystem services. As defined by the EPA, a watershed is the land area that drains to one stream, lake or river, affects the water quality in the water body that it surrounds. Individual watersheds share similarities but also differ in many ways. Every inch of the United States is part of a watershed – in other words, all land drains into a lake, river, stream or other water body and directly affects its quality. Because we all live on the land, we all live in a watershed — thus watershed condition is important to everyone.

Increasingly efforts to protect, restore, enhance and create wetlands are being employed to improve overall watershed health and to support climate change adaptation. Both traditional and innovative wetland protection and restoration projects - including hybrid systems using green infrastructure – are being increasingly employed to provide critical ecosystem services and benefits, such as increased flood and drought protection, clean drinking water, and habitat.

In 2019, ASWM completed a two-year project, entitled Healthy Wetlands, Healthy Watersheds to help states and tribes build their capacity around integration efforts that leverage state wetland restoration and protection programs to improve watershed health.  The products of this project are listed below under ASWM Resources for States and Tribes and include a white paper, state program integration case studies, watershed project integration case studies, and other support resources.


ASWM Resources for States and Tribes

Final White Paper: Healthy Wetlands, Healthy Watersheds: Leveraging State Wetland Restoration and Protection Programs to Improve Watershed Health (ASWM, 2019)

State Wetland Program Integration Case Studies (ASWM, 2019)

ASWM State Wetland Program Integration Case Study: Indiana: Improving Program Efficiency for Wetland and Stormwater Permitting through Joint Management in Indiana

ASWM State Wetland Program Integration Case Study: Minnesota: Integration of Groundwater Appropriations Permitting and Surface Water Permits, including Wetlands

ASWM State Wetland Program Integration Case Study: Minnesota: "One Watershed, One Plan": An Initiative to Leverage Date to Get Better Results for Clean Water in Minnesota

ASWM State Wetland Program Integration Case Study: Missouri: Cross-Program Wetland Coordination in Missouri

ASWM State Wetland Program Integration Case Study: :Nebraska: Incorporating   Wetlands   into   Reservoir  Rehabilitation   Projects   for   Fisheries and Other Benefits in Nebraska 

ASWM State Wetland Program Integration Case Study: New Mexico:Integrating Wetlands into Nonpoint Source Plans and 319 Projects

ASWM State Wetland Program Integration Case Study: Vermont: Integration of the Vermont Watershed Management Division’s Water Quality Monitoring Programs: Combining Wetland, Lake

ASWM State Wetland Program Integration Case Study: Vermont: Wetland Restoration and TMDLs in Vermont' s Lake Champlain Basin

Watershed Project Integration Case Studies: Factsheets and Data Sheets (ASWM, 2019)


Delaware River Basin (DE)

Upper St. John's River (FL)

Beaver Creek Watershed (IA)

Anacostia River Watershed (MD)

Vermillion River Watershed (MN)

Jemez River Watershed (NM)

Johnson Creek Watershed (OR)

Lewisville Lake Watershed (TX)

Yakima River Basin (WA)

Data Sheets

Delaware River Basin (DE)

Upper St. John's River (FL)

Beaver Creek Watershed (IA)

Anacostia River Watershed (MD)

Vermillion River Watershed (MN)

Jemez River Watershed (NM)

Johnson Creek Watershed (OR)

Lewisville Lake Watershed (TX)

Yakima River Basin (WA)

Considerations for Measuring Integration Value (ASWM, 2019) – Coming Soon!

ASWM Webinars for the Healthy Wetlands, Healthy Watersheds Project Delivered with the  Natural Floodplain Functions Alliance (NFFA)

Common Questions: Establishing Local Government Wetlands and Watershed Management Programs (ASWM, 2006) 

Multi-Objective Wetland Restoration in Watershed Contexts (ASWM, 2004) 


Useful External Publications and Resources 

Identifying and Protecting Healthy Watersheds: Concepts. Assessments and Management Approaches (EPA, 2012)

Healthy Watersheds Initiative: National Framework and Action Plan (EPA, 2011)

Healthy Watersheds Integrated Assessments Workshop: Advancing the State of the Science on Integrated Healthy Watershed Assessments and Considering the Role of Green Infrastructure in Maintaining Watershed Health and Resilience (EPA, 2011)

Healthy Watershed Integrated Assessments Workshop Synthesis (EPA, 2011)

EPA Website on Sustainable Water Infrastructure

Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters – March 2008

The Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) Tools Network

Center for Watershed Protection Releases Urban Stormwater Retrofit Practices Manual (Center for Watershed Protection, 2016)

EPA Website on Healthy Watersheds: Protecting Aquatic Systems through Landscape Approaches

EPA Website on Incorporating Wetland Restoration and Protection in Planning Documents

2015 EO Progress Report Update on FLC’s Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed (Federal Leadership Committee for the Chesapeake Bay, 2016)

Wetlands and Watershed Protection Toolkit for New York

EPA Website Resources on Nutrient Pollution

Below you will find additional links to specific watershed topic areas: 

Floods & Natural Hazards

Natural Floodplain Functions Alliance