Clean Water Act and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) of Pollutants [Updated October 25, 2006] [open pdf - 43KB]
"Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act requires states to identify waters that are impaired by pollution, even after application of pollution controls. For those waters, states must establish a total maximum daily load (TMDL) of pollutants to ensure that water quality standards can be attained. Implementation was dormant until states and EPA were prodded by lawsuits. The TMDL program has become controversial, in part because of requirements and costs now facing states to implement this 30-year-old provision of the law, as well as industries, cities, farmers, and others who may be required to use new pollution controls to meet TMDL requirements. In July 2000, EPA issued revisions to strengthen the program. The rule was widely criticized, and congressional interest was high. The 2000 rule did not go into effect, and in March 2003, EPA withdrew the rule to consider whether to issue an entirely new rule or other options; no timetable has been announced. Consequently, the program continues to operate under regulations issued in 1992. Congress has several options to address TMDL issues, which remain contentious."
CRS Report for Congress, 97-831