San Francisco Bay Delta

Environmental Results

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Defining Outputs and Outcomes

Outputs are the activities or deliverables that are to be accomplished as a result of a grant. Outputs are generally described as deliverables or milestones in a workplan or timeline. EPA project officers track the completion of outputs to monitor the progress of a grant. Outputs include things like workshops held, volunteers trained, studies, watershed management plans, outreach materials, etc.

Outcomes are the environmental impacts or results of the work of the grant. While outputs are accomplished during the life of the grant, outcomes may occur after the completion of the grant. It may be useful to categorize outcomes as short-term and/or long-term. Documenting environmental outcomes can be challenging, so a wide range of methods can be utilized including estimation, modeling and monitoring.

  • Short-term outcomes may include things like: extent of installed best management practices, reduction in pesticide use, sediment load reductions to a waterbody, acres of wetlands restored, number of growers with water quality plans, changes to less polluting behavior, increase in knowledge, an active stewardship program, etc.
  • Long-term outcomes might include: documented progress towards achieving TMDL water quality objectives, reduction of a pollutant in a waterbody or target species, recovery of ecological services in a wetland, meeting water quality standards, water body removal from 303(d) list because of active stewardship including use of BMPs, widespread implementation of LID as a result of demo projects and institutional changes, etc.

    The Logic Model

    The Logic Model is a planning tool to help design activities to achieve desired outcomes. While it is not always possible to measure significant environmental outcomes within the life of a typical grant, it is important to show the contribution of your individual project or grant in moving towards long term objectives. With a Logic Model, you can show why you are producing a specific output, what the short term impact is likely to be, and how you are contributing to longer term objectives. The Logic Model can also help clarify the limits of your direct accountability and provide insight as to how you can actually measure outcomes.

    Logic models come in many forms and shapes. You may find that a very simple version does the trick, or you can really delve into the details. Below are examples of how a logic model could help you think a project through:

    We need to conduct this research
    so that
    scientists and the public understand why the fish are dying
    so that
    decision makers can institute protective measures
    so that
    water diversions can be modified
    so that
    conditions in the Estuary improve
    so that
    native fish are healthy and abundant.

    We propose a project to identify and remediate PCB sources
    so that
    municipalities and regulatory agencies can clean up sites
    so that
    sources of PCBs are removed from watersheds that drain to the Bay
    so that
    PCB levels in the Bay continue to decline
    so that
    San Francisco Bay meets its water quality standards for PCBs
    so that
    The fish in San Francisco Bay are safe to eat again.


    Logic Model Basics

    Additional examples of how the logic model has been used for different types of projects: Measuring Environmental Results

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