May 02, 2014
Forest Service Announces Proposed Directives
for Managing Groundwater
The Forest Service proposes to amend its internal Agency directives for Watershed and Air Management to establish direction for management of groundwater resources on National Forest System (NFS) lands as an integral component of watershed management. Specifically, the proposed amendment would provide direction on the consideration of groundwater resources in agency activities, approvals, and authorizations; encourage source water protection and water conservation; establish procedures for reviewing new proposals for groundwater withdrawals on NFS lands; require the evaluation of potential impacts from groundwater withdrawals on NFS resources; and provide for measurement and reporting for some larger groundwater withdrawals.
- News Release
- Federal Register Notice (published May 6, 2014)
- Proposed Groundwater Management Directive (Forest Service Manual Chapter 2560 – Groundwater Resource Management)
- Highlights for understanding the purpose and significance of the proposed groundwater management directive
- Answers to frequently asked questions about groundwater resources
- Webinar: USDA Forest Service Proposed Groundwater Management Directives
The Forest Service hosted a national webinar on May 20, 2014 to discuss the components of the proposed policy to manage groundwater resources on the country’s national forests and grasslands. Forest Service leaders and technical specialists provided an overview on groundwater issues and information on the intent of the agency’s directives.
View a recording of the webinar HERE.
View the slides from the webinar HERE.
- New! Expanded set of Q&As--based on the more common questions we have been receiving
Key points of the proposed directive
THE PROPOSED DIRECTIVE WILL
- Provide for consideration of groundwater resources in agency activities.
- Encourage source water protection and water conservation.
- Establish procedures for reviewing new proposals for groundwater withdrawals on NFS land.
- Require the evaluation of potential impacts from groundwater withdrawals on NFS natural resources.
- Provide for measurement and reporting to help build our understanding of groundwater resources on NFS land.
THE PROPOSED DIRECTIVE WILL NOT
- Affect procedures or impose any new conditions on state-issued water rights.
- Affect existing or future tribal water rights settlements or water compacts.
- Impose any new regulations or requirements on locatable, leasable, geothermal, or mineral material operations.
- Change the way state water quality regulations or tribal water quality standards are promulgated or administered.
- Give the Forest Service any new authorities.
The Forest Service welcomes public comment on its goal to create a comprehensive, consistent and effective approach to managing groundwater resources to meet the needs of communities and to ensure long-term benefits to people and ecosystems.
- Comments on the proposed directive will be considered in development of the final directive.
- The Forest Service welcomes public comment within 90 days from the date of publication of the notice in the Federal Register (published May 6, 2014). Comments must be received electronically. Electronic comments may be submitted by following the instructions at regulations.gov or via email to email@example.com.
- Technical Guide to Managing Ground Water Resources (.pdf)
- Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Level I Inventory Field Guide: Inventory Methods for Assessment and Planning (GTRWO-86a)
- Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Level II Inventory Field Guide: Inventory Methods for Project Design and Analysis (GTRWO-86b)