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The Neuse River Basin: North Carolina's Experience in Developing and Implementing Point Source Nitrogen Controls

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North Carolina's Neuse River has been visibly impacted by eutrophication since the late 1970s and early 1980s, when several algal blooms were noted. The State has taken a series of steps to establish effective nutrient controls in the basin, most recently adopting a comprehensive Nutrient Management Strategy in December 1997. This rules package requires both point and nonpoint sources in the basin to reduce nitrogen loadings to the estuary by 30% by the year 2003. Nonpoint source rules prescribe measures for reducing loadings from urban stormwater, agriculture, and other nonpoint sources of nutrients. The Strategy's point source rule establishes total nitrogen (TN) allocations for groups of dischargers and larger individual dischargers; and extends phosphorus discharge limits to a larger number of dischargers than under previous rules. The new rule also establishes a group compliance option, in which permitted dischargers can work collectively to meet a combined nitrogen allocation, rather than be subject to individual allocations.

In October 1998, the Division of Water Quality (DWQ) submitted a nitrogen Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) to EPA for the Neuse River basin, based on the same 30% reduction set in the Nutrient Management Strategy. EPA Region 4 approved the TMDL in July 1999.

This paper presents an overview of the Nutrient Management Strategy for point source dischargers and the State's experience in implementing the Strategy thus far. It describes the Division of Water Quality's experience in revising the original point source nitrogen allocations; describes the early challenges in implementing a group approach to reducing nitrogen discharges from point sources; and looks ahead at additional steps planned for the near future.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2000

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