Agency Seeks Comment on Draft TMDL Handbook

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water has issued a draft "Handbook for Developing Watershed TMDLs" available for public comment at http://www.epa.gov/owow/tmdl/techsupp.html. The comment period closes on Feb. 18.

EPA is looking for ways to help states expedite development of scientifically defensible TMDLs. One strategy is to use a watershed framework for developing TMDLs. Grouping multiple impaired segments into a single watershed TMDL development effort not only provides a number of cost and time efficiencies to the TMDL development process, but it can also better represent source-impairment dynamics to facilitate more effective allocations and implementation for reducing point and nonpoint source loads to restore impaired waterbodies to water quality standards.

The draft document identifies the issues for practitioners to consider and tools and resources that can help them when planning for and developing watershed TMDLs. The draft document also identifies the benefits of developing watershed TMDLs, as well as the challenges and ways to address them. Throughout the draft document, there are examples, tips, and resources provided to further support TMDL practitioners in understanding how to develop watershed TMDLs to cost effectively develop allocations to restore impaired waters. Finally, the draft document evaluates the connections between watershed TMDLs and other water programs and identifies opportunities for integrating watershed TMDLs and their results into other watershed management efforts, such as monitoring, watershed planning, watershed-based permitting, and water quality trading.

Please send any comments or questions you have on this draft document to Michael Haire in the Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds'  Watershed Branch at haire.michael@epa.gov.

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