Element 3 - Overview

A TMDL is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a body of water can assimilate and not exceed the water quality criteria. Missouri’s Water Quality Standards establish such criteria, or pollutant concentration, to protect drinking water, fishing, swimming, aquatic life and other designated uses. In Missouri, the department develops TMDL studies for waters that are not attaining these designated uses due to exceedances of the criteria; these studies are planning tools used to restore impaired water bodies.

The department and EPA have established TMDLs or TMDL alternatives for 233 water body/pollutant pairs in Missouri, addressing numerous impairments. Many of these TMDLs were completed to satisfy requirements of the 2001 consent decree, American Canoe Association, et al. v. EPA, No. 98-1195-CV-W. During this time, Missouri’s focus was, necessarily, on producing TMDLs according to a fairly rigid schedule. There was little latitude to prioritize or engage in TMDL development beyond the scope of the consent decree, and little time and few resources available for TMDL implementation or protection efforts.

Following the resolution of this consent decree early in 2011, several important and related transitions have begun to take place. Within Missouri, the department’s TMDL program has taken this opportunity to renew its attention to implementing TMDLs. Recognizing that guidance and support are critical to achieving the water quality goals of the TMDL, the department has begun developing more comprehensive implementation strategies documents.

The purpose of the implementation strategies is to serve as guidance for local professionals, watershed managers, and citizen groups who may be developing watershed-based plans or actively implementing best management practices, or BMPs, in a watershed. Along with incorporating EPA’s nine elements for a successful watershed plan, where appropriate, these implementation strategies will also include information about potential BMPs, sources of funding and participants in the watershed, and provide calculations of pollutant load reductions necessary to meet water quality standards. As a result, a well-developed strategies document will be part of the public notice process, for each TMDL. EPA does not approve or disapprove the implementation strategies document.