State Board Continues Work on TMDL Listing Policy

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, Feb. 27, 2004

The State Water Resources Control Board recently concluded two days of "workshops” in Sacramento and Torrance, taking public comment on its proposed TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) Listing and De-Listing Policy. With the formal close of the public comment period on February 11th, the State Board staff is now working on analyzing and preparing responses to several dozen comments received in writing and at the workshop hearings.

The Listing and De-Listing Policy is an important one to CMTA members because, when completed, it will be the blueprint that Regional Boards must follow in determining whether to put a surface water body on to the TMDL list of impaired waters, which in turn customarily triggers extremely restrictive NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) permit limits, and substantial financial commitments on the part of the regulated community. CMTA has been closely involved in the development of the Listing and De-Listing Policy for the past three years through its representation on the AB 982 (1999, Denise Moreno Ducheny, D-San Diego) Public Advisory Group, chaired by Craig Johns.

Assessing the current draft of the Policy, Johns remarked, "This draft represents a significant amount of time and effort by a number of regulated community representatives, and generally creates a reasonable starting point to direct Regional Boards on how to go about putting waters on the TMDL List. Even still, there are a number of issues that industrial dischargers continue to have concerns about, and we're hopeful that the State Board will recognize the need for further adjustments to the current version of the Policy."

Echoing these sentiments in a letter to State Board Chairman Arthur Baggett, CMTA President Jack Stewart wrote, "We believe there are many positive aspects of the Draft Listing Policy ... such as the use of consistent and scientifically sound criteria as well as the reliance on specifically adopted water quality standards to determine actual water segment impairments. Nevertheless, we have a number of concerns with the current draft that we urge the State Board to modify before adopting the Policy." Some of the concerns highlighted in Stewart's letter include the need for the Regional Boards to review all prior TMDL listings to verify their accuracy and the need to maintain a "planning list" for waters that might exhibit some characteristics of impairment, but for which inadequate data is available to confirm. All of these changes, Stewart's letter noted, are intended to dedicate scarce public and private resources to solving real water quality problems.

The State Board is expected to hold another round of workshops in April. CMTA will continue to monitor and participate in the development of this important policy.
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