National Estuary Program
In the United States, the National Estuary Program was created by the 1987 amendments (Pub.L. 100–4) to the Clean Water Act (Pub.L. 92–500, as amended) to provide grants to states where governors identify nationally significant estuaries that are threatened by pollution, land development, or overuse. Governors have identified a total of 28 estuaries, and the Environmental Protection Agency awarded grants to these states to develop comprehensive management plans to restore and protect the estuaries.
The National Estuary Program is made up of 28 smaller organizations set up regionally by estuary. Each of the 28 organizations is headed by the community. It is the job of the National Estuary Program to help communities better protect, restore and maintain their estuaries. Unlike traditional environmental governance approaches, the National Estuary Program targets a broader range of issues and participates more effectively in local communities. Before the National Estuary Program, there was only a mishmash of small grassroots organizations that had limited effect. The programs now focus not just on improving water quality in an estuary, but on maintaining the integrity of the system as a whole. If all parts of the estuary are not addressed it will be unable to balance the changes and may ecologically collapse, doing more harm than good. That includes chemical, physical, and biological properties, as well as its economic, recreational, and aesthetic public values. This allows communities that live in watersheds to have local as well as national protection. 
Concerns have been raised about the transparency of at least one local National Estuary Program, with the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission having been found by a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge to have violated the California Public Records Act.
- Maryland Coastal Bays Program, one of the 28 organizations
- Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, one of the 28 organizations
- San Francisco Estuary Partnership, one of the 28 organizations
- San Juan Bay National Estuary Program, one of the 28 organizations
- Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program, one of the 28 organizations
- US EPA. 2011. "How does the National Estuary Program help?" 29 September. Accessed 3 December 2011 <http://water.epa.gov/learn/kids/estuaries/nep.cfm>.
- US EPA. 2011. "Estuaries and Coastal Watersheds." 29 September. Accessed 2 December 2011 <http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/nep/>.
- Press Release, 2016. "Court Rules EPA Funded National Estuary Program Violated Transparency Laws" <http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/court-rules-epa-funded-national-estuary-program-violated-transparency-laws-300212861.html>.
- This article incorporates public domain material from the Congressional Research Service document "Report for Congress: Agriculture: A Glossary of Terms, Programs, and Laws, 2005 Edition" by Jasper Womach.