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Watershed planning

Our program develops plans to ensure clean water for drinking, recreation, fish and wildlife, and agriculture. We collaborate with stakeholders and partners, collect and analyze water quality and ecological data, identify pollution sources, and select projects and management practices to reduce pollution and restore waterways. We use total maximum daily load (TMDL) studies, nine-element watershed plans, and other planning mechanisms to protect and restore Utah’s waters.


Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies address pollution in waterbodies that aren’t meeting state water quality standards for one or more beneficial uses (drinking water, recreation, aquatic life, and agriculture). A TMDL establishes the maximum amount of a pollutant a waterbody can receive, allocates pollutant load reductions from point sources (piped discharge) and nonpoint sources (runoff), and provides a framework and timeline for bringing the waterbody into compliance with water quality standards.

Nine-element watershed plans offer a comprehensive approach to watershed restoration, management, and protection. The first three elements identify pollution sources and management measures to reduce pollution, and the next six elements identify the resources and metrics needed to implement and evaluate the plan. Stakeholder involvement and project implementation are key to plan success. Nine-element plans are eligible for federal 319 nonpoint source grant funds.

Watershed plans assess and monitor the health of a watershed and provide a structure for project implementation when remediation is necessary. Unlike nine-element plans, these plans are not eligible for federal 319 funding.

Plan prioritization

We prioritize waterbodies for restoration and protection every 10 years using the Environmental Protection Agency’s Recovery Potential Screening Tool and a stakeholder survey of water quality concerns and priorities. This approach helps identify waterbodies with the greatest need for restoration or protection and allows us to allocate resources effectively.

See our approach


Visit our map to find areas covered under a TMDL, nine-element watershed plan, or watershed plan.

Find on the map:

  • Plan PDFs
  • Descriptions of the planning areas
  • Beneficial uses covered under the plans
  • Plan contact info

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