Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
Section 303(d) of the CWA requires that each State identify those waters within its boundaries for which existing technology-based pollution controls required by the CWA are not stringent enough to attain or maintain State water quality standards. States are required to establish TMDLs for those “impaired” waters. TMDLs are pollution budgets designed to identify necessary reductions of pollutant loads to the impaired waters so that the appropriate water quality standards are met, including designated uses like fishing or swimming and water quality criteria for parameters such as dissolved oxygen and water clarity.
In addition to the Virginia segments identified above, the Potomac River is listed on the District of Columbia's section 303(d) impaired waters list for low pH. The water quality standards exceedances for pH in the Potomac River are the result of algal impacts from excess nutrients. Establishment of a Potomac River pH TMDL is directly linked to the establishment of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL because of their common impairing pollutants (nutrients) and hydrologic connection. Like Virginia, EPA is under a consent decree obligation to establish a pH TMDL for the Potomac by May 1, 2011 if the District of Columbia does not develop that TMDL (
Most notable of these provisions is the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program. Under this program, permits are issued to point sources. These are sources discharging to waterbodies through a pipe or other discrete conveyance. Examples include municipal wastewater treatment plants, industrial facilities, municipal stormwater systems, and combined animal feeding operations. NPDES permits for these point sources contain effluent limits that control the amount of nutrients and sediment allowed in their discharge. Under the CWA, these permit effluent limits must be written consistent with the assumptions and requirements of the wasteload allocations in an EPA-approved TMDL. 40 CFR 122.44 (d)(1)(vii)(B).
Under the CWA, nonpoint sources (any source that is not a point source, e.g., certain agricultural and other unchanneled stormwater runoff) are generally not regulated under the NPDES permit program. Instead, pollutant controls for nonpoint sources are promoted through Federal grant programs like CWA section 319. In addition to the CWA section 319 grant program, there are other Federal assistance programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Each State also has a variety of regulatory and non-regulatory programs that provide important measures or incentives to control nonpoint sources of pollution. Because EPA's ability under the CWA to influence nonpoint source pollutant reductions solely through grant-related programs is not expected to fully address nonpoint source reduction needs, EPA is working with our partner jurisdictions to develop innovative
During TMDL development, EPA will work with its partner States and the District of Columbia to develop individual Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) and an overall TMDL implementation framework. Those plans and framework would be part of the TMDL Record of Decision and help provide reasonable assurance that the necessary nutrient and sediment reductions from point and nonpoint sources identified in the TMDL will be achieved. The WIPs will identify specific nutrient and sediment reduction targets by geographic location and sector to achieve allowable loadings, as well as a description and schedule of actions that the States, DC, and local decision-makers will take to achieve these reductions. Informed by the TMDL, EPA, the States and the District of Columbia will also provide two-year milestone commitments specifying what source controls will be taken to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment during that period. EPA is working with the States to develop an adaptive management approach with greater accountability including contingencies and consequences that would be implemented if a State or the District does not achieve its two-year milestone commitments or the TMDL's nutrient and sediment reduction and implementation targets.
In May 2009, the Chesapeake Bay Program's Executive Council set new short-term goals to reduce pollution to the Bay and dramatically accelerate the pace of restoration in the Bay and its rivers. Instead of pursuing a distant deadline, the seven Bay jurisdictions will now focus on shorter, two-year milestones. The first sets of milestones, announced at the Executive Council meeting, are scheduled to be met by December 31, 2011. By meeting these and future milestones, the Bay jurisdictions expect to put in place all pollution control measures necessary for a restored Bay no later than 2025.
On May 12, 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order entitled “Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration.” The Executive Order calls on the Federal government to take a leadership role in protecting and restoring the Bay. Pursuant to the Order, a number of Federal agencies, including EPA, are developing reports making recommendations to the President for restoring the Bay, including achieving its water quality standards. Draft reports are to be submitted to the Federal Leadership Committee, chaired by EPA, by mid-September 2009. The Federal Leadership Committee will then integrate these agency reports into a draft Strategy for coordinated implementation of Federal efforts to restore and protect the Bay. That draft Strategy will be published for public comment in November 2009 and released as a final document in May 2010. EPA expects to integrate the Bay TMDL fully into the set of recommendations it proposes pursuant to the Executive Order.
By this notice, EPA is seeking preliminary comment on the development of a TMDL for phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment in the impaired tidal segments of the Chesapeake Bay. Further information on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL development may be viewed at
EPA will hold a series of public meetings between November and December 2009 to provide information and to solicit input from the public on the preliminary development of this nutrient and sediment TMDL for the Chesapeake Bay. EPA intends to hold a second public comment period between June and September 2010 after the draft Chesapeake Bay TMDL is published.
EPA requests that the public provide to EPA any water quality related data and information that may be relevant to the development and calculation of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL by December 18, 2009. EPA will review all data and information submitted during the public comment period and will incorporate it into the TMDL as appropriate.
EPA also requests that the public provide any additional information and comment regarding the design and establishment of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL and accompanying implementation plans so that EPA can incorporate these ideas into the TMDL development process.