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ENGAGING KEY STAKEHOLDERS TO STRUCTURE AND SUPPORT THE MASSACHUSETTS TMDL PROGRAM

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In reviewing and refining the state TMDL program, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) realized the necessity to actively involve key stakeholders. DEP identified the key stakeholders from areas including: industry; other state and federal agencies; watershed and other advocacy groups; municipalities and wastewater districts; and professional organizations. This group formed the Steering Committee for the state's TMDL program and met approximately monthly from fall of 2001 through spring of 2002 to provide feedback and guidance. Issues critical to the strategic direction of the overall program and individual TMDL evaluations were brought before the Committee. Listing and de-listing procedures and criteria, as well as prioritization of water quality segments on the 303d list were discussed with the Steering Committee. Issues related to available resources and approaches to funding the program and individual TMDL evaluations were also brought before the group.

The meetings were a combination of education, workshops and panel discussions centered around program aspects identified for enhancement. Generally the morning was used to describe the issue, give background, and present case studies. The afternoons were spent in breakout groups centered around specific issues raised in the morning. The meetings concluded with each breakout group reporting back on consensus reached or the need for more work to address an issue.

The Steering Committee also served in a review capacity. Technical Memoranda documenting suggested Massachusetts TMDL program enhancements were circulated to members for review and comment before finalizing. Similarly proposed changes in listing, prioritization, and approaches to funding and performing TMDLs were reviewed by the Committee.

Early indications are that the stakeholder involvement process produced a strong group of advocates for an enhanced TMDL program. They feel ownership and recognize the importance of TMDLs both to the state and their individual interests. The process has also established a procedure for active stakeholder involvement and cooperation as the program and individual TMDLs proceed. This engagement and cooperation are inherent in the TMDL concept and through the Steering Committee concept the state has laid the foundation for TMDLs over the next 10 years.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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