American Public Works Association (APWA) Section 5600

Many of our cities are members of The American Public Works Association (APWA), an association that provides guidance for municipalities for effective storm drainage systems.

Section 5600 (Storm Drainage Systems and Facilities) of the APWA manual recognizes that stream and buffer zones within the watershed is one of the areas of consideration that should be addressed by municipalities when disturbances to an area are proposed. Sections 5605.2 and 5605.3 state: “Natural streams provide numerous water quality, ecological, and quality of life benefits. Protection and preservation of natural streams is a national environmental objective, as set forth in the Clean Water Act. Streams and their associated wetlands provide critical habitat for plants and wildlife, water quality treatment, and improved infiltration of rainfall which lessens flood impacts, recharges groundwater, and preserves base flow. Streams provide recreational and open space in communities, improve aesthetics, provide natural landscapes, and enhance adjacent property values. Stable streams in nature maintain a shape in plan, profile, and section that most efficiently transports the water and sediment supplied to them… It is recommended that Cities adopt comprehensive stream preservation and buffer zone requirements as part of their master plan and enforce those policies during the planning phase of land development. Requirements may be selected to protect environmental and quality of life benefits and be tailored to local geography and natural resources… Buffer zones shall be established around all preserved streams… Natural streams should be preserved as systems and not segmented on a project-by-project basis, as the frequent intermixing of natural and man-made systems tends to degrade the function of both.” You can encourage your local governments to follow these guidelines to protect the health of your watershed —for your downstream neighbors and for you too!

The APWA 5600 can be viewed at: The size of the PDF file is 5.16 megabytes. This information is provided by the South Grand River Watershed Alliance. For additional information regarding watersheds, visit