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The Need for Involvement by Drinking Water Utilities in the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Process

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The Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program focuses on restoring water quality primarily for recreational, aquatic life, and public health uses, but addressing drinking water quality concerns is often neglected. This paper explores and promotes the benefits of drinking water utility involvement in the TMDL process. By participating, utilities can leverage the TMDL outcome to reduce costs for treatment, improve water quality, reduce health risks, and promote active communication with upstream and downstream stakeholders. This participation will also improve the scope and effectiveness the TMDL program in meeting all of its wider objectives.

To respond to these needs, the American Water Works Association Research Foundation (AwwaRF) and the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) sponsored an experts workshop. They brought together regulators, utilities, and other stakeholders to explore the links between the “clean water” and “safe water” communities. The objectives of the workshop were to: identify gaps in current knowledge; identify benefits and impacts to utilities; open communication between regulatory agencies and utilities; and identify future TMDL information and research needs.

Workshop participants identified and discussed many important issues and gaps in current knowledge as it related to the drinking water utility involvement in TMDLs. This included the relationship between water quality standards and MCLs, links between watershed management and source water assessment and protection plans, data analysis and TMDL development, interagency coordination, public outreach, and implementation of controls. Despite these issues and gaps, participants strongly endorsed proactive utility involvement in TMDLs, rather than reactive. Potential drinking water utility benefits of involvement include reduced treatment and related costs, reduced public health risks, appropriate control measures, and good public relations.

Workshop participants identified information and research needs, including improvements related to TMDL analysis, standards, implementation of controls, program integration, watershed management, public education and involvement, and educating drinking water utilities.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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