Bacterial TMDL Implementation Control Strategies

This information is part of a larger research project that became a Master’s thesis for the completion of a degree in Conservation Ecology & Sustainable Development. This page will assist in meeting goals of stakeholder education, outreach and communication by addressing questions and issues surrounding bacteria TMDL implementation in Georgia.

What does Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act require?

Through Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, states are required to set water quality standards for streams, rivers, and water bodies. Total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) of pollutants are assessed for waters not meeting water quality standards. Water quality standards and TMDLs are set by the State of Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division. If a water body does not support or only partially supports its designated use (drinking, recreation, fishing, wild and scenic, or coastal fishing) by violating water quality standards set for each use, it is considered “impaired” and a TMDL must be allocated for each impairment or pollutant.

USEPA, Clean Water Act Section 303

What is a TMDL?

A TMDL is a calculation of the maximum amount of a particular pollutant that a water body can assimilate daily while meeting water quality standards. Once the TMDL is set, the local government, or other third party entity, must produce and follow an implementation plan so that TMDLs are not exceeded. As a requirement of Section 303(d), streams should be ultimately “de-listed” by meeting the water quality standard for its designated use.

USEPA, Introduction to TMDLs

Why focus on bacteria TMDLs?

Of the over 800 water bodies in Georgia that require TMDLs, Fecal coliform (FC) bacteria from the intestinal tracts of vertebrate animals are the most prevalent impairment or pollutant.

FC bacteria are found in both urban and rural settings and pathogenic forms pose a great risk to the health of our population and to the expense of water treatment for our communities. However, FC can be effectively managed by the implementation of control strategies such as structural and non-structural best management practices (BMPs). By focusing on TMDL implementation strategies, I hope to provide a useful product to the Georgia communities faced with the difficulties of bacteria TMDL implementation.

GA Conservancy Water Quality & TMDL info, also bacteria TAG

What is this project doing to assist with TMDL implementation in GA?

Our neighboring states, and others across the Nation, are dealing with these same issues of meeting Federal clean water requirements with little funding and support available. Rather than “reinvent the wheel,” why don’t we learn from each others’ successes and failures? Not only will sharing information assist both parties improve their own state program, but will also prepare us for eventual cross-state TMDL implementation plans. Due to the nature of surface waters, one state’s actions will affect neighbors downstream and so on. If we can collaborate on these issues, we can conserve both time and resources while meeting mutual goals of water quality improvement. Therefore, I asked the question: what are other states in the Southeast doing about bacteria TMDL implementation?

What is contained in the thesis document?

The objective of this thesis is to provide stakeholders in Georgia with a synthesis of bacteria TMDL control strategies and implementation programs that have proven successful in states of the Southeastern Piedmont: Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. This study augments the research and recommendations already being compiled and distributed by the bacteria TMDL Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and other stakeholder groups in Georgia.

Complete thesis:
Bacteria TMDL Implementation Control Strategies of the Southeast: Recommendations for Georgia

Contact information:
Rebecca (Becca) Haynes
Watershed Outreach Coordinator
South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control
Bureau of Water, Division of Water Quality
2600 Bull St.
Columbia, SC 29201
803-898-4140 fax

river water sediment