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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed plans to improve water quality on 66 impaired water bodies within the Upper and Lower Guyandotte River watersheds in West Virginia. The 30-day public comment period on the proposals opened Jan. 30 and will end Mar. 1.
The plans establish more than 180 "pollution budgets," known as Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), that set the maximum amount of specific pollutants that can be introduced into the river and its tributaries.
"The EPA and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection partnered in developing this plan that is designed to make dramatic improvements on the environmental health of the Guyandotte River and its tributaries," said Donald S. Welsh, regional administrator for EPA's mid-Atlantic region.
When a water body does not meet its water quality standards for a particular pollutant, the federal Clean Water Act requires the state to include the water body on its list of impaired waters. West Virginia has listed sections of the Guyandotte and its tributaries as impaired by pollutants including pH, aluminum, iron, manganese, selenium, and/or fecal coliform bacteria.
Once the water body is impaired, a TMDL must be developed to set the maximum amount of a specific pollutants that an estuary, lake or river can receive. After that load amount is calculated, all sources of that pollutant in the watershed are required to reduce their contributions of the contaminant to specified levels.
EPA is developing these draft TMDLs to meet the requirements under a court order resolving a civil suit that requires EPA to establish final TMDLs no later than March 30, 2004.
The draft TMDLs can be reviewed on the EPA Region 3 website at www.epa.gov/reg3wapd/tmdl. Public meetings on the plans will be held Feb. 24, 2004 in Logan, W. Va. and Feb. 25 in Hamlin, W. Va.. Written comments should be postmarked no later than March 1, 2004.