Ohio EPA Commits to TMDL study – Public Comment Sought

A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is a tool that identifies sources of water pollution and calculates the maximum amount of a pollutant that can enter a body of water while still allowing that body to meet water quality standards. Lake Erie advocacy groups and local governments have long argued that a TMDL is called for in the western Lake Erie basin. The Environmental Law & Policy Center, the City of Toledo, Lucas County, and others sued the U.S. EPA in efforts to force Ohio EPA to develop a TMDL. Now the Ohio EPA has committed to developing one in the next two to three years.

According to the Clean Water Act, each state must develop TMDLs for all the waters identified on their Section 303(d) list of impaired waters, according to their priority ranking on that list. In 2018, the Ohio EPA designated the open waters and shorelines of Lake Erie as impaired because they do not meet the state’s criteria for recreational and drinking water uses.

In February, 2020 the Ohio EPA announced the agency’s intention to develop a western basin TMDL in the Draft 2020 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report which is available here for review and comment. Public comments will be accepted through March 13. *

The TMACOG policy document Agenda for Lake Erie recommends that, in the event a TMDL is developed, load allocations should be used to set pollutant load limits for regulated point source discharges and specify non-point source load reductions targets for all land uses in the western Lake Erie basin, including agriculture.

Kari Gerwin, director of Water Quality said, “Ohio’s commitment to develop a TMDL for the western basin gives me hope that we will soon have another tool at our disposal to address Lake Erie’s ongoing algae problem. We are carefully reviewing the draft 2020 Integrated Report and will be keeping our members apprised as we learn more about timing and the process”

* Comments can be submitted by email to EPATMDL@epa.ohio.gov or in writing to Ohio EPA, Division of Surface Water, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049 Attn: 303(d) Comments


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