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Watershed Management News

Draft Technical Document Handbook for Developing Watershed TMDLs Available for Review and Comment

EPA announced on December 15 that it has posted for review and comment a draft Handbook that discusses the potential environmental, financial, and implementation benefits of developing watershed total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), and provides practitioners with a series of screening factors that should help determine, based on pollutant type, water body type, data quality, and other considerations, the site-specific suitability of the TMDL watershed approach. Additionally, the draft Handbook highlights the connections between watershed TMDLs and other water programs, identifying opportunities for integrating watershed TMDLs into other similar water quality management efforts, such as watershed planning, permitting, and water quality trading. The principal audiences for this document are local, state, and third party TMDL practitioners who already have “hands on” experience developing more traditional TMDLs, and therefore are already familiar with the relevant technical approaches and regulatory requirements associated with developing TMDLs.

While the draft Handbook covers technical information, the concepts presented are applicable to the development of multi-jurisdictional TMDLs (e.g., watersheds that span more than one state), and therefore certain policy issues may arise during the TMDL process that are not fully addressed in this draft. Such issues include assumptions made about boundary loads between two jurisdictions, how to address the concept of reasonable assurance, and approaches to accounting for pollutant allocations upstream. EPA is also interested in thoughts on these issues and other relevant topics to developing watershed scale TMDLs. Comments on the draft document should be sent to Rosaura Vega at or Mike Haire at by February 18, 2009. The document is posted at