New Mexico
Environment Department

Contact Information:
(505) 827-2855 MAIN // 1-800-219-6157 (toll free)
Environmental Emergencies:
505-827-9329 (24 hrs)

Surface Water Quality

Watershed Based Planning

Watershed-Based Plans  (WBP) are comprehensive reports written to address water quality problems for watersheds with impaired streams.

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) monitors water quality throughout the state. Water bodies with high pollutant amounts are considered to be impaired. Once a stream is considered impaired, NMED calculates a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) which states the maximum amount of a pollutant the stream can contain while not being impaired. WBPs  investigate the causes of impairment and recommend changes that  reduce the pollution in an impaired stream.

WBPs are voluntarily written and authors are required to seek public input. Most are written as an avenue to Clean Water Act funding for projects to protect or improve water quality. Once a plan is created, any organization (private, county, tribal, etc.) can apply for funding to implement the plan’s recommended projects.

Pollutant sources can vary greatly, and WBPs are written to address the specific water quality impairments of the streams they cover. Plans can only be written for impairments that have a TMDL, but a plan does not have to address every impairment on a stream- plans can focus on one or two specific impairments on which the authors have expertise.

Once a draft WBP is reviewed by NMED it must be approved by the EPA Region 6 staff before projects can be funded under its scope. All WBPs have to meet the nine elements in the Nonpoint Source Program and Grants Guidelines for States and Territories to be accepted by EPA.


Also view the current list of watershed planning groups in New Mexico.

EPA-Accepted Watershed Based Plans
These WBP documents were reviewed by EPA and determined to meet the nine planning elements.
  Draft Watershed Based Plans
These Draft WBP documents are still in development, having not yet attained all nine planning elements.
  Watershed Restoration Action Strategies
These WRAS documents were developed prior to the nine elements of the WBP that have been incorporated into the New Mexico Nonpoint Source Management Plan since 2009.  These archival plans generally lack the quantitative elements required of WBPs, but many of them still provide useful background information for future planning.
  Wetland Action Plans
These Wetland Action Plans (WAPs) are designed to specifically address wetlands and riparian resources within the boundary of a specific watershed. SWQB facilitates watershed groups throughout the State to develop WAPs as an additional component of their WBP.
  Resources for developing Watershed Based Plans
Click here for more information on getting started, how-to guides and much more about completing a successful WBP.