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Category 4b Demonstration for Pathogen Impaired Tributaries to Puget Sound in Kitsap County, Washington

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Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA's) supporting regulations in 40 CFR Part 130.7 require states to develop lists of waterbodies impaired by a pollutant and needing a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) (i.e., the Section 303(d) list) and to prepare a TMDL for each waterbody/pollutant combination. USEPA's regulations also recognize that other pollution control requirements may obviate the need for a TMDL. These alternatives to TMDLs are commonly referred to as Category 4b waters as described in USEPA's Integrated Reporting Guidance for Sections 303(d), 305(b), and 314 of the CWA.

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) 2008 Integrated Report has placed 14 pathogen (fecal coliform) impaired creeks that flow to Puget Sound in Category 4b. The foundation of Ecology's Category 4b demonstration for these waters is Kitsap County's Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) program. The PIC program monitors, identifies and controls non-point sources of pollution, focusing on failing septics and non-point source animal wastes. BMPs used by the PIC program to improve water quality include county rules and regulations to properly operate and maintain on-site septic systems in the watersheds. The county is actively engaged in on-site system education, dye testing of suspect systems, and enforcement of the county rules and regulations governing on-site sewage systems. In addition, the Kitsap Conservation District (a non-regulatory agency) assists small farm owners and owners of livestock to implement BMPs for animal waste management and farm pollution control. When a regulatory approach is needed, however, the county enforces its regulations for handling and disposal of annual manure and pet waste. In 2003, the PIC program was recognized with a Local Hero Award by Washington's governor for its efforts to preserve, protect, and sustain Puget Sound. Ecology expects that the county's PIC program will result in attainment of the fecal coliform water quality standard for these waters by 2012.

This paper presents Ecology's demonstration for assigning these waters to Category 4b according to USEPA's Category 4b guidance, lessons learned in developing the restoration strategy, and potential challenges for maintaining these waters in Category 4b for future 303(d) reporting cycles.
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Keywords: Category 4b; TMDL; alternative; fecal coliform; impairment; nonpoint source

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2009

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