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A Transition from Mere Regulation to Watershed Management: A Municipal Perspective on TMDL Implementation

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A presentation from a medium sized Town carrying out a TMDL implementation plan and four components deemed essential to the overall process: (1) Stakeholder Courtship, (2) Public Engagement, (3) Water Quality Practices, and (4) Infrastructure Management.

The Town of Blacksburg, Virginia, is located on the eastern continental divide in southwestern Virginia, about a 4 hours drive south of Washington, D.C. It has a growing population of approximately 41,000 people and is home to the largest university in the Commonwealth (Virginia Tech). Town limits only encompass twenty square miles but impact watersheds that flow to the Atlantic and to the Gulf of Mexico. The area was originally settled in the 1700's due to the abundance of clean springs. Urbanization has decreased stream water quality and in 1994 the creek flowing through the center of Town was designated an “impaired stream.” A TMDL study issued by the Commonwealth in 2004 identified poor storm water quality from urban and agricultural runoff as contributing to the impairment. The Town was one of four stakeholders called on by the Commonwealth to compose and initiate a plan to address the “impaired watershed” TMDL designation and an implementation plan was finalized in 2006.

The presentation will highlight four components employed by the Town to comply with the TMDL regulations and move the municipality toward a more comprehensive watershed management strategy. First, regular stakeholder meetings to assess progress on the implementation of the plan and confer with state, regional and local agencies regarding grant opportunities. The Town has successfully obtained grants from several agencies to assist with implementation. Secondly, an outreach program that has involved a community based organization to focus on the historical significance of the once abundant watershed assets and the value of restoring water quality with respect to the Town's heritage. Thirdly, the construction of several water quality features by the Public Works department that have allowed the organization to obtain working knowledge of Best Management Practices (BMPs) and assess pitfalls. Fourthly, Town employed tools such as GIS, storm water models, and flow data collection stations used to more effectively evaluate and manage watershed infrastructure.
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Keywords: Bioretention BMP; CU-Structural Soilâ„¢; GIS; TMDL Implementation; watershed centric design; watershed model

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2009

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