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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Water Quality - What is SP12

Water Quality

SP12 Success – What is SP12?

SP12 refers to a section within the EPA Five Year Strategic Plan.   This measure falls under Goal 2:  Protecting America’s Waters of the existing 2011-2015 Plan.   It is a watershed improvement measure.   When first proposed in a previous 5-year plan, the measure was to improve water quality conditions in 250 impaired watersheds nationwide by 2012 using the watershed approach.  SP12 is intended to establish and demonstrate a capacity for watershed-scale restoration and protection throughout the country using the "watershed approach." 
 
Watershed is most often defined as a hydrologic unit at the 12-digit scale, as determined by the draft or final Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD).  It can also be a regionally defined hydrologic unit of appropriate scale because some waters, such as coastal and estuary waters, fall outside the WBD, and may or may not be hydrologically definable at a scale comparable to inland HUC-12s. Although watersheds or hydrologic units at the 12-digit scale are technically termed "sub-watersheds" by USGS, the Strategic Plan will use the term "watershed" for simplicity. 
 
Improved means either that: 
  • One or more of the waterbody/impairment causes identified in 2002 are removed, as reflected in EPA-approved state assessments, for at least 40% of the impaired water bodies or impaired stream miles/lake acres in the watershed; OR 
  • There is significant watershed-wide improvement, as demonstrated by valid scientific information, in one or more water quality parameters or related indicators associated with the impairments. 
Beginning in 2008, EPA required states to report SP12 (at least one watershed (12 digit HUC) each year.   The following list provides summaries of most of the watersheds that have qualified as SP12 improvement watersheds. 
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