Eel River Watershed Initiative

Eel River Float September 22nd_Page_1
Eel River Float September 22nd_Page_2


Clean Up
Spring has finally arrived!!  It is a great time to get out and enjoy the Eel River.  Fish are starting to become more active and soon they will begin to spawn. 

About Us

The Eel River Watershed Initiative is a collaborative, community-wide effort to protect and enhance the water resources of the Middle Eel River Watershed through education and implementation of soil and water conservation practices

The mission of the Eel River Initiative is to design and implement a holistic strategy to restore the ecological integrity of the Eel River basin within the context of human endeavors and to provide ecological research opportunities for Manchester University Environmental Studies students.

The Initiative began in 2009 as a result of Manchester University's commitment to its students and the environment. Thanks to the Environmental Studies Program of the Biology Department of Manchester University, the Initiative is able to work toward the goals outlined in the Watershed Management Plan, which include: improving water quality, enhancing recreational opportunities, and promoting conservation of natural resources within the Eel River Watershed

The water quality monitoring program of the Initiative provides an outstanding opportunity for Manchester University students to gain valuable field and research experience.

Our Mission:

“To protect and enhance the water resources of the Eel River Watershed through education and implementation of soil and water conservation practices.”

Our Vision:

Through a focus on nonpoint source pollution, improve the water quality, enhance recreation and promote conservation of natural resources in the Eel River Watershed.

Who We Are:

A coalition of concerned individuals and agencies led by Manchester University, funded through a Section 319 Clean Water Act Grant.

  • The 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act (CWA) established the Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program. Section 319 addresses the need for greater federal leadership to help focus state and local nonpoint source efforts.
  • Funding period – Jan 1, 2013 through Dec 31, 2015

What We Do:

Our project consists of four major components:

  • Implement the Watershed Management Plan
  • Administer an rigorous water quality monitoring program
  • Implement a cost-share program
  • Education and Outreach

What is a Watershed?

 A watershed is an area of land that drains to a common location. A watershed can vary in size, they can represent the area draining to a small stream, a river, or to the entire area draining to an ocean. See the diagram below.

Everyone who lives in a watershed influences its natural resources – soil, water, air, plants and animals – and each other. This influence can extend both upstream and downstream from a land use. For this reason, good stewardship by everyone living, working and recreating in a watershed is important to ensure good watershed conditions.

Why a Watershed Approach?

A watershed approach is the most effective framework to address today's water resource challenges. Watersheds supply drinking water, provide recreation and respite, and sustain life. More than $450 billion in food and fiber, manufactured goods, and tourism depends on clean water and healthy watersheds.

A Watershed Approach: 

  • Is geographically defined and includes all water quality stressors

  • Involves all stakeholders, including public (federal, state, local) and private sector

  • Is community based

  • Includes a coordinating framework

  • Strategically addresses priority water resource goals (e.g. water quality, habitat), based on sound science, aided by strategic watershed plans and uses adaptive management
    Everyone lives in a watershed. Do you know which watershed you live in? Provided below is a map of the Middle Eel River Watershed and its subwatersheds. If you live in the Middle Eel River Watershed - Can you find the watershed you live in?

What can you do to help improve water quality?


  • Manage animal waste to minimize contamination of surface water and ground water. 
    Protect drinking water by minimizing fertilizer use and by learning how to prevent pest problems. When pesticides are used, minimize detrimental impacts by using least toxic pesticides and by following all label directions.

  • Reduce soil erosion by using conservation practices and other applicable best management practices.

  • Use planned grazing systems on pasture and rangeland.

  • Dispose of pesticides, containers and tank rinsate in an approved manner.

Urban Stormwater Runoff

  • Keep litter, pet wastes, leaves and debris out of street gutters and storm drains—these outlets drain directly to lake, streams, rivers and wetlands.

  • Apply lawn and garden chemicals sparingly and according to directions.

  • Dispose of used oil, antifreeze, paints and other household chemicals properly—not in storm sewers or drains. If your community does not already have a program for collecting household hazardous wastes, ask your local government to establish one.

  • Clean up spilled brake fluid, oil, grease and antifreeze. Do not hose them into the street where they can eventually reach local streams and lakes.

  • Control soil erosion on your property by planting ground cover and stabilizing erosion-prone areas.

  • Encourage local government officials to develop construction erosion and sediment control ordinances in your community.

  • Have your septic system inspected and pumped, at a minimum every three to five years, so that it operates properly.

  • Purchase household detergents and cleaners that are low in phosphorous to reduce the amount of nutrients discharged into our lakes, streams and coastal waters.


  • Use proper logging and erosion control practices on your forest lands by ensuring proper construction, maintenance and closure of logging roads and skid trails.

  • Report questionable logging practices to state and federal forestry and state water quality agencies.

Eel River Watershed Logo