Why is Nine Key Element planning important?
Nine Key Element planning is based on the United States Environmental Protection Agency's "Nine Minimum Elements of Successful Watershed Plans." The elements cover a range of considerations that have been proven critical for addressing non-point source pollution, including technical, financial, educational, and adaptability/sustainability factors. Together, these help ensure that watershed plans are robust and effective in improving water quality.
Approval of 9KE plans by WDNR and the EPA makes section 319 federal funding for watershed projects more accessible. Nine Key Element planning has also become the de facto standard for many of the NGO funding sources, making 9KE plans even more critical for accessing the full range of resources for watershed projects.
What progress has been made on the planning recently?
Sweet Water is currently working on four 9KE plans for the Milwaukee region. The plan for the Kinnickinnic River watershed has been submitted to WDNR and we are currently incorporating feedback for the final draft to be submitted for EPA approval by the end of 2017. The plan for the Menomonee River watershed is mostly complete, and will also be submitted to WDNR by end-of -year.
Due to its size and complexity, planning for the Milwaukee River is segmented at the sub-watershed level. Sweet Water is currently working on two plans for Milwaukee River sub-watersheds. Nine-KE planning for the Cedar Creek and Lake Michigan Frontal sub-watersheds is still in the initial stages. This planning will utilize some new watershed modeling tools and approaches, which will be "firsts" for the development of 9KE watershed plans in Wisconsin. The anticipated completion of these sub-watershed plans is mid-2018.
How will 9KE planning impact TMDL implementation?
Nine-KE plans are complementary precursors to Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) implementation plans, and help to inform the implementation plans. Sweet Water’s 9KE plans incorporate and address many aspects of the TMDLs, and also include aspects of watershed quality that fall outside the TMDL focus, so these plans have a more comprehensive scope. More detailed and targeted TMDL implementation plans will be developed at appropriate scales, based in part on the 9KE watershed and sub-watershed plans.