Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...
State agencies may be able to assess and develop plans to protect healthy waters alongside those to restore impaired ones as part of a yearlong effort by the Environmental Protection Agency and state water agencies to reform the process for writing total maximum daily load plans.
A TMDL plan calculates the maximum level of pollutants that each point source, such as wastewater utilities, and nonpoint source, such as farms, may discharge into a body of water and still allow the water to meet water quality standards. States, territories, and tribes with EPA oversight develop lists of impaired waters and develop TMDL plans for them under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act.
Allowing states the option to consider protecting healthy waters, or waters that are not listed as impaired under Section 303 (d) of the Clean Water Act, in TMDL plans starting in 2016 is a new concept that has not been part of the program before, Alexandra Dunn, executive director and general counsel for the Association of Clean Water Administrators, told BNA Aug. 17.
She said this option will ensure that water quality standards are maintained at all waters, not just those that are impaired.
The option to protect healthy waters is one of the six elements in a draft plan that EPA and ACWA have jointly developed since August 2011 to reform the TMDL program, according to the document obtained by BNA.
The five other elements of the plan include prioritizing TMDLs for the most impaired waters starting in 2016, considering alternatives to TMDLs starting in 2018, assessing both healthy and impaired waters on a site-specific basis by 2020, engaging the public in the TMDL planning process by 2014, and integrating with other Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act programs no later than 2016.
EPA is receiving comments on the draft document and intends to make it publicly available by mid-September. The agency shared the document at ACWA's annual meeting in Park City, Utah, which ran Aug. 12-15, Dunn said.
The joint vision plan is based on the lessons that states have learned from writing nearly 50,000 TMDL plans and represents the “first comprehensive effort” to reform the TMDL program, Dunn said.
“We realized that we were focusing on just getting the TMDLs for all impaired waters rather than for those waters that would benefit most from restoration,” Dunn said.
States faced a number of lawsuits in the early years of the 2000 decade from environmental groups that forced them to write TMDLs at a rapid pace, she said.
“We are on the cusp of developing our 50,000th TMDL, the document said. “We have measured and observed whether and how well listing and TMDL results have been implemented on the ground, incorporated into control actions for point and nonpoint sources, and improved water quality, and led to water quality restoration. The experience gained in assessing these waters and in pursuing individual TMDLs has not only contributed to the understanding and restoration of specific waters, but has also revealed where there are opportunities to make better strides toward water quality improvement and protection, both from an environmental standpoint as well as efficient program management.”
For instance, Dunn said, states have written TMDLs for waters impaired by atmospheric deposition of mercury. In those instances, states realized there was not much they could do to restore the waters through the Clean Water Act because atmospheric deposition of pollutants falls under the Clean Air Act. In such instances, she said a TMDL would not be the answer but an alternative method or integrating with Clean Air Act programs could provide the solution.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)