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MAKING THE DECISIONS ON TOTAL MAXIMUM DAILY LOADS: THE FUTURE OF THE NATIONAL WATER PROGRAMS

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Abstract:

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 (PL 92-500) – also known as the Clean Water Act (CWA) - were enacted into law in October of 1972. This new law mandated that States take the lead role in aquatic resource protection and restoration. Congress directed States to establish water quality standards for different types of waterbodies based on use, identify waters that were not attaining those standards, and develop plans to improve the impaired waterbodies. As Congress fashioned the statute, the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) role was to oversee the program, offer grants to projects requiring more resources than States had available, and offer assistance as needed to improve projects. Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act addressed Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) and although §303(d) has not changed since 1972, the regulations promulgated by the USEPA regarding TMDLs have grown more complicated, demanding greater resources than ever before. In July of 2000, the USEPA published revisions to the 1992 TMDL regulations. Congress, concerned by USEPA's approach to the issue, postponed implementation of the regulations. While §303(d) and its regulations offer a comprehensive approach to the management of our nation's waters, they also could become a bureaucratic exercise in meeting deadlines and satisfying requirements that neither improve nor protect the nation's water resources.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864701790902554

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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