EPA Proposes Clean Water Act Revisions

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed revisions to existing regulations for administering the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) provisions of the Clean Water Act.

Under the TMDL program, states provide a comprehensive listing of all the nation's polluted waters. The states then develop pollution budgets, or TMDLs, for waters impaired by nonpoint and point sources of pollution. Pollution reductions called for by a TMDL budget are designed to meet certain safe levels of pollutants that allow beneficial uses, such as swimming or fishing, established in water quality standards adopted by states.

Congress established the TMDL program in the Clean Water Act of 1972. EPA's early work to implement the act focused on establishing effluent limitations through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for point sources like factories and wastewater treatment plants. However, lawsuits filed against EPA in the late 1980s and 1990s have compelled the development of TMDLs on specific schedules and for all impaired waters, including waters impaired by nonpoint sources of pollution (e.g. agriculture and forestry).

To improve implementation of the TMDL program, EPA convened a Federal Advisory Committee and proposed amendments to existing TMDL and NPDES regulations in the Federal Register on August 23, 1999.

The resulting Joint Agreement is posted on EPA's Office of Water Web site and can be found at www.epa.gov/owow/tmdl/tmdlwhit.html.

(SOURCE: EPA Office of Water)