Update on Federal TMDL Program
EPA recently decided to delay implementation of the new federal Total Maximum Daily Load ("TMDL") rule in order to address concerns of industry, and agricultural and environmental groups over the impact of the new program. The TMDL rule, which was to be implemented October 1, 2001, is designed to protect and improve water quality by allocating pollutant discharge limits to point sources. See 65 Fed. Reg. 43586 (July 13, 2000). Implementation of the rule will be deferred for 18 months until March 2003. EPA will hold a series of "listening sessions" across the nation in order to hear additional concerns of interested parties and to improve the new program. Non-point sources of pollution, the scope and content of TMDLs, listing impaired waters, and other issues will be addressed during the sessions.
EPA recently completed a draft report that estimates the costs of implementing the new TMDL rule. See 66 Fed. Reg. 41875 (Aug. 9, 2001). EPA estimates that it will cost $900 million to $4.3 billion annually to restore approximately 20,000 of the nation's impaired waterways. Interest groups representing industry, agriculture and the environment have sued the agency over the TMDL rule. See American Farm Bureau Federation v. Whitman, Docket No. 00-1320 (D.C. Cir. 7/18/00).
EPA Launches NPDES Website
Recently, the EPA has launched a new website for its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System ("NPDES") Permit Pro-gram. Available on the website are technical and regulatory information about the NPDES permit program organized by both user and by program area. The site can be accessed at www.epa.gov pdes.