This one-hour session presents a unique new way to advance holistic nutrient management in watersheds with a focus on Practices, Policies and Partnerships. Panelists will address how watershed managers can use the Practices, Policies and Partnerships framework to better plan nutrient management efforts and diagnose barriers to further progress. The influence of climate change and considerations about environmental justice will be discussed.
The session will focus on achieving the following outcomes:
- Investigate key water quality and regulatory drivers for nutrient reduction efforts and how climate change and environmental justice are overarching influences on future reduction programs.
- Provide an overview of the Water Research Foundation framework for holistic nutrient management and application to existing and developing nutrient reduction programs.
- Identify environmental benefits that may be realized through implementing a program that integrates the practices, policies, and partnerships success factors.
- David Clark, PE, HDR, Global Wastewater Market Sector Director
- Trent Stober, PE, HDR, Global Utility Management Services Director
- Peter Grevatt, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, Water Research Foundation
- Harry Zhang, PhD, PE, Water Research Foundation, Research Program Manager
- Pinar Balci, PhD, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Environmental Planning and Analysis, Assistant Commissioner
- Julie Stein, LEED AP BD + C, ENV SP, Stormwater Business Class Director, HDR (Moderator)
Clean water agencies, regulatory agencies, and watershed stakeholders are searching for innovative approaches and best practices to address water quality challenges due to nutrient enrichment. Through a series of interactive workshops in three different geographic regions, this Water Research Foundation project developed a framework to advance nutrient management that fosters innovation and new opportunities. The project goal is to focus on approaches that may be applied nationally and tailored to address unique water quality improvement needs and varying watershed contributions from point and nonpoint sources.
Three key webinars were conducted to capture experiences in the western (San Francisco Bay area), eastern (Philadelphia), and central regions (Iowa) of the United States. These sessions were conducted on March 19, 2020, hosted by the Bay Area Clean Water Agencies (BACWA); June 4, 2020, hosted by Philadelphia Water Department; and September 17, 2020, hosted by Iowa Soybean Association and City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Overall, these experiences inform holistic approaches to both urban and agricultural nutrient management issues, with an overarching goal to develop innovative approaches and best practices for holistic nutrient management on a national scale.
The culmination of the 2020 webinar sessions and literature review resulted in a new framework to improve holistic watershed nutrient management in the following three key elements. Impacts of climate change and environmental justice challenges were overarching themes that are addressed through this framework and addressed within each element.
- Practices: Technical solutions to understanding and solving water quality challenges. Practices range from watershed and receiving water diagnostic tools to nutrient reduction strategies. Diagnostic tools include continued advancement of watershed and receiving water models, water quality monitoring techniques, and data analytics. Nutrient reduction practices include point source controls through enhanced wastewater treatment and nonpoint source controls implemented through urban stormwater and agricultural runoff best management practices.
- Policies: Innovative approaches to enable nutrient reductions through regulatory and institutional programs. Policy strategies include using regulatory flexibilities through permitting processes, water quality endpoint development, and long-range planning that enable adaptive and incentive-based implementation approaches. Recent amendments of the Federal Clean Water Act provide defined flexibilities to align municipal utility programs with community priorities, affordability challenges, and water quality needs.
- Partnerships: Collaborative efforts between watershed stakeholders through strong leadership and mutual trust. Effective partnerships rely on principled stakeholder engagement, shared team motivation, and strong organizational capacity. These partnerships involve sharing information, resources, and expertise to develop trust between stakeholders and implement strategies that achieve water quality outcomes.
This nutrient management framework provides a structured process with key success factors that can be tailored to develop holistic watershed-based nutrient reduction plans. Balanced nutrient reduction plans that integrate practices, policies, and partnerships should yield more effective and efficient implementation focused on consensus-based outcomes that provide greater net environmental benefits. The framework also provides a diagnostic lens to identify missing elements of existing nutrient reduction efforts that have not achieved planned outcomes. Water sector engagement and literature reviews demonstrated an overemphasis on implementing point source reductions or restrictive regulatory policies that did not yield meaningful water quality improvements or net environmental benefits. Rather, some nutrient reduction efforts may have resulted in negative environmental externalities while pursuing diminishing water quality returns and missed opportunities to provide more holistic environmental benefits, such as investments into nature-based solutions. Particularly in cases where substantial point source reductions have occurred, opportunities to adaptively manage future efforts with enhanced policies and partnerships may further advance watershed and receiving water restoration.
For more information on this WRF Project, read this article.
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WRF ISBN: 978-1-60573-614-3.
WRF Project Number: 4974
This one-hour session presents a unique new way to advance holistic nutrient management in watersheds with a focus on Practices, Policies and Partnerships. Panelists will address h...