Spring 1998: What is a TMDL?

The topic for the Spring UPDATE is an obscure provision in section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act which describes the requirements for Total Maximum Daily Loads (or TMDLs, as it will be mercifully referred to throughout the rest of the newsletter). What is a TMDL? Why is it in the news now? And what does it mean for Long Island Sound? This issue of the UPDATE will try to answer these questions. First some perspective.

The 1972 Clean Water Act required EPA and the states to issue permits telling point source dischargers what technologies to use to reduce pollution. Section 303(d) then required each state to identify waters for which these national, technology-based requirements were not stringent enough to achieve water quality standards. States would then develop a TMDL identifying additional point and nonpoint source pollution controls necessary to comply with standards.

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