A watershed is an area of land that drains to a particular water body, such as a stream, lake, river, or wetland. Watersheds are important because they provide us with water for drinking, recreation, industry and agriculture. Most water pollution comes from many nonpoint sources in a watershed – like parking lots and roads, crop fields and pastures, and construction sites and lawns. Since water resource problems are most often tied to land use in a given watershed, they often cut across political jurisdictions. By examining water resource issues on a watershed basis – instead of along political boundaries, problems can be assessed in relationship to their sources so that the causes can be addressed in the most effective manner.

A watershed planning approach provides a framework for local stakeholders to more effectively prioritize concerns and coordinate and integrate available programs and resources to address their water resource problems. The department provides support for watershed planning through several programs.

Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Grants

This program engages citizen organizations, federal, state and local governments, as well as universities and other stakeholders to plan for and implement nonpoint source pollution control practices and monitor for improvements to water quality. Project funding is provided though Section 319(h) of the federal Clean Water Act, with the department awarding subgrants that support 60 percent of total project costs (40% local match is required). Funding is prioritized for watershed based planning to address impaired waters, and for implementation of accepted nine-element watershed based plans. Visit Section 319 Nonpoint Source Subgrants for more information about this funding opportunity.

Section 604(b) Water Quality Management Grants

The department offers grant subawards under Section 604(b) of the federal Clean Water Act to assist regional comprehensive planning organizations and interstate organizations to carry out water quality management planning. Planning activities funded by a 604(b) grant include determining the nature, extent and causes of point and nonpoint source water pollution problems, and developing plans to resolve these problems. When funds are available, a project solicitation request specifying project scope, length and available funds will be advertised. There is no match requirement. Visit the Water Quality Management Planning page for more information on eligible projects and project sponsors, and how to apply for this funding.

Source Water Protection Program

Source water protection refers to focused management of drinking water sources and includes efforts designed to prevent the introduction of pollution into groundwater, streams, lakes and reservoirs used as raw water sources. The department works with public water suppliers to increase protection of these sources through voluntary participation with the Missouri Source Water Protection Program . While a local source water protection plan may include an entire watershed, they are often targeted to specific areas close to the water source. Watershed protection planners are encouraged to collaborate with public water systems operating within their area of interest to enhance the effectiveness of the larger watershed protection strategy.