Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) is a planning and management framework that engages stakeholders within a particular watershed in a process to:
- Identify watershed restoration and protection needs and opportunities
- Establish management goals for the watershed community
- Create a cost-effective action plan to achieve goals
- Implement the action plan
WRAPS represents a shift from “top-down” government intervention in watershed issues, to a more citizen-stakeholder approach, in which funds, guidance and technical assistance are provided for stakeholders to reach consensus on issues of relevance in their watershed, and then design and execute a plan to address those issues.
The term “WRAPS” was coined by KDHE in response to the 1998 Clean Water Action Plan issued by the Clinton Administration. The Clean Water Action Plan directed the state environmental agency and the State Conservationist of each state to complete a “unified watershed assessment”. Once the assessment was completed, states were then directed to develop “watershed restoration action strategies” (WRAS). Kansas’ has long contended that restoration of damages is only part of the need and that action to protect water is also necessary, hence the term WRAPS. As used by KDHE, WRAPS referred to the development of action plans to address nonpoint source pollution sources on a watershed basis. WRAPS projects were initiated by watershed stakeholders and received financial support from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to address Total Maximum Daily Loads and related water quality concerns.
In 2003, a review of the Basin Sections of the Kansas Water Plan showed that watershed restoration and protection was a priority issue in most of the river basins of Kansas, and an interagency work group was appointed to develop a Water Issue Strategic Plan. The work group found that Kansas and the federal government have many different programs and activities that address related water resource management issues. The work group determined that much more could be accomplished through a collaborative watershed planning process that addressed not only water quality/pollution issues but the entire spectrum of watershed water resources needs.
The WRAPS initiative is the result of a long history of Kansas’ water resource management programs and activities. Watershed planning and management is not a new concept in Kansas. Since the 1950’s, watershed districts have been developing and implementing watershed general plans to address flooding and erosion concerns with federal and state assistance. The Kansas Department of Agriculture, Division of Water Resources has been initiating the development of subbasin (i.e. watershed) management plans since the early 1990’s to address ground and surface water quantity issues in selected areas of western Kansas. The current WRAPS initiative is intended to address priority issues identified in the basin sections of the Kansas Water Plan through the development and implementation of WRAPS in priority watersheds.
There are many ways to contribute your voice and skills to help protect and restore your watershed. Visit the WRAPS Project directory to determine if there is a WRAPS in your area. Then contact the sponsoring organization to ask how you can participate in the WRAPS process.
Please visit the WRAPS Map for the most current listing of WRAPS Projects.
Although individual WRAPS documents will vary somewhat in format and content, the general components of a WRAPS document should include:
- Watershed assessment information describing the natural resource conditions and associated challenges/opportunities
- Summary of stakeholder involvement (stakeholder recruitment, leadership team, public involvement, etc.)
- Watershed goals for the area
- Actions recommended to achieve goals (includes implementation, monitoring and evaluation)
- Identification of technical and financial resources needed to implement the recommended actions
- Supportive documentation (statements of adoption, agency approvals and memorandums of understanding)
Proposals for WRAPS projects will be evaluated based on criteria established by the WRAPS Work Group comprised of state and federal natural resource agencies. Evaluation criteria will consider state priority interests, local priority interests and project history. Watersheds above federal reservoirs that serve public water supply needs have been identified as initial state interest priority areas. However, proposals for any watershed are eligible for funding and will be considered by the WRAPS Work Group.
Proposals for WRAPS funding from the KDHE WRAPS Fund will be submitted online through the Kansas Clean Waters (KCW) system. The KCW can be accessed through “Grants” page of this website, or through the KDHE Watershed Management Section web site: www.kdheks.gov/nps
Local government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) may sponsor a WRAPS proposal and apply for funding from the KDHE WRAPS Fund. Examples include conservation districts, watershed districts, city and county governments, resource conservation and development councils, and nonprofit environmental/conservation organizations. Individual citizens who see a need for watershed restoration and/or protection in their watershed can also work through one of these local groups to initiate a WRAPS.
Proposals for WRAPS funding can be submitted in four categories to suit the four phases of a WRAPS process:
- Development: Stakeholder recruitment, determine interest, document stakeholder decisions.
- Assessment: Review watershed conditions, trends, develop expectations of the watershed and management measures in use, identify restoration and protection needs, creating a watershed model.
- Planning: Establish goals, identify actions that may achieve goals, develop cost estimates, select strategy, and identify stakeholder implementation strategies.
- Implementation: Secure resources needed to execute plan, monitor and document progress, revise plan as needed. Program guidance is developed by the WRAPS Work Group for projects funded within these categories.
A special WRAPS Fund has been established through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment with federal funding through the EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 Program and state funding through the State Water Plan Fund. Funding fluctuates from year to year, and more information about current funding can be found on the “Grants” page of this website. A number of other state and federal programs may also be used to support various components of a WRAPS, particularly implementation projects. Local resources can also be utilized to support WRAPS efforts.
Anyone with an interest or deriving value from the watershed’s resources is a stakeholder. In reality, everyone who lives in a watershed is a stakeholder in the restoration and protection of that watershed. We all want to drink clean water, swim in clean water, eat fish that came from clean water, and have a river or lake that looks and is healthy and full of life. Examples of stakeholders include urban and rural residents; local, state or federal government agencies; elected officials; agricultural producers; recreational users and wildlife enthusiasts.
WRAPS can be applied to any size watershed from river basins to something as small as 100 acres. A river basin WRAPS will likely have less detail than a small watershed, but the general principles are the same. A river basin WRAPS would mostly likely be initiated by state agencies while a small community lake watershed may be initiated by the lake owner. A river basin WRAPS would typically produce a list of priority sub-watersheds contained within the basin that would lead to specific WRAPS projects for these smaller watersheds. Watersheds consisting of a 14, 11 or 8 digit HUC are generally used for WRAPS purposes, although larger watershed may be utilized. The size of the watershed (e.g. HUC 14, 11, or 8) used for a particular WRAPS will depend on a number of factors, such as the water bodies being protected, regional physiographic characteristics and community structure. The WRAPS initiative is intended to assure that watershed action plans developed under this process are consistent and mutually supportive regardless of the size of the watershed.
A watershed refers to an area of land that drains to a common water body such as a lake or stream. Watersheds vary in size and shape. Large watersheds are comprised of smaller or “nested” watersheds. A Hydrologic Unit Code, or HUC, is used to identify specific watersheds at different scales. The number of digits in a HUC indicates the relative scale of the watershed. The smaller the number, the larger the watershed. In Kansas, there are approximately 2020 HUC 14 watersheds nested within 355 HUC 11 watersheds, which are in turn nested in approximately 90 HUC 8 watersheds.