The National Estuary Program (NEP) represents a unique partnership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and numerous federal, state and local organizations working together to address coastal watershed management challenges. The NEP brings together citizens, scientists, businesses, and government to solve environmental problems and promote healthy, vibrant communities. The program stakeholders work together to develop science-based action plans that enhance the estuary as a vital environmental and economic resource benefiting local communities and the entire nation.


Over half of the U.S. population lives within 100 miles of a coast. Each year, coastal regions experience a rapid growth in population. This phenomenon within estuaries causes a number of problems to occur, which adversely affect water quality, living resources, and overall estuarine ecosystem health. Also, long term effects on an economic and socio-economic level within estuary communities can occur.

The 28 National Estuary Programs (NEP) share information about their successful approaches to environmental challenges with each other and other coastal watershed managers. That exchange is critical to the effective restoration and protection of estuarine health across all the NEPs.

close-up look of a great blue heron