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State Regulators Commit To Explore Alternatives For Water Body Clean-up Plans

August 25, 2011

This week, state regulators with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) committed to exploring alternatives to the water body clean-up plans known as "Total Maximum Daily Loads" (TMDLs). A TMDL is required by the federal Clean Water Act for every water body listed by DENR as impaired. Functioning as a "water pollution diet," a TMDL can place limits on the pollutants discharged from treatment plants and stormwater sources.
In response to comments written by the League and other stakeholders regarding the Little Alamance Creek stormwater TMDL proposed earlier this year, DENR agreed to meet with League members to discuss alternative means of achieving water quality improvements.  These meetings will build on the discussions that have taken place throughout this summer by a workgroup of League members.

As part of its commitment to seek an alternative to stormwater TMDLs, DENR has also agreed to withhold the Little Alamance Creek TMDL while the workgroup engages in discussions with DENR staff.  This action ensures that similarly flawed TMDLs do not apply to other communities while a discussion takes place.  Once a TMDL is in place, local governments face more restrictive permit terms, which could result in higher expenses to continue providing services such as wastewater treatment and stormwater controls.
The League views these efforts with DENR staff as working in tandem with its increased advocacy for more oversight and development of TMDLs by the N.C. Environmental Management Commission (EMC).  Since the League began its discussions with the EMC members, the Commission has heard one presentation on the status of a pending TMDL for High Rock Lake near Salisbury.  And at their September meeting in a few weeks, Commissioners will hear another overview presentation on the state's TMDL program.  We are encouraged by the EMC's interest in TMDL regulation, and we will continue to urge the Commssion to assume a more active role in development of TMDLs.

Posted on August 25, 2011 by Erin Wynia