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Rapid Watershed Assessment

Rapid Watershed Assessment (RWA) is a new initiative by NRCS.   RWA provides initial estimates to help determine where conservation investments would best address the concerns of landowners, counties, watershed groups, and other stakeholders. These assessments help landowners and local leaders set priorities and determine the best actions to achieve their goals.

Rapid watershed assessments provide a foundation for watershed or area planning. They will be valuable for Farm Bill program delivery, and provide useful information for county, watershed and regional planners.

Rapid Watershed Assessments Currently Available

To produce the assessments, quantitative and qualitative data is collected and organized to create a watershed profile using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology.  The data is analyzed to allow resource concerns and conditions to become apparent, and to generate maps and information to help people make better decisions about conservation needs and programs.

This project will utilize existing county, state, and federal planning products and resources. In Wisconsin, county Land Conservation Departments (LCD’s) develop Land and Water Resource Management Plans (LWRMP’s) which are updated every five years (Note: LCD’s are similar to Soil and Water Conservation Districts in other states). These plans, utilizing local stakeholders and producers, document resource concerns within the county, typically on a sub-watershed basis, outline priorities to be addressed, and identify stakeholder groups, partners, and funding sources. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) regularly issues State of the Basin Reports that are closely correlated with USGS 8-digit watersheds. These reports contain the water monitoring data (physical, chemical, biological) that can demonstrate long-term trends and also aid the Department in identifying key project areas.

Future Additions to RWA

In phase 2, we are developing an assessment matrix. It summarizes, in tabular form, current resource conditions and related maintenance costs. It will also summarize desired resource conditions, conservation opportunities and installation and maintenance costs, qualitative effects on primary resource concerns and potential funding sources for conservation implementation.

Program Contact: Melissa Bartz, Assistant State Conservationist, Programs 608-662-4422 x 232