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Water: Total Maximum Daily Loads (303d)


July 21, 2003

SUBJECT: Guidance for 2004 Assessment, Listing and Reporting Requirements Pursuant to Sections 303(d) and 305(b) of the Clean Water Act; TMDL-01-03
FROM: Diane Regas, Director /s/
Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds
TO: Water Division Directors
Regions 1 - 10

Note: TMDL0103 represents a new nomenclature for AWPD guidance; TMDL represents the program, 01 represents the first in the series of AWPD guidance documents in a particular year, and 03 represents the year.

This memorandum transmits EPA's guidance for preparing the 2004 Integrated Report. The Integrated Report is intended to satisfy the listing requirements of Section 303(d) and the reporting requirements of Sections 305(b) and 314 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). This guidance replaces and supercedes the following documents:

  • Guidance for 1994 Section 303(d) Lists - Geoffrey H. Grubbs, November 26, 1993;

  • National Clarifying Guidance for 1998 State and Territory Section 303(d) Listing Decisions -Robert H. Wayland III, August 27, 1997;

  • EPA Review of 2000 Section 303(d) Lists - Robert H. Wayland III, April 28, 2000;

  • 2002 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report Guidance - Robert H. Wayland III - November 19, 2001; and

  • Clarification of the Use of Biological Data and Information in the 2002 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report Guidance.

This guidance is intended to be used by States and Interstate Commissions (that prepare 305(b) reports) in the preparation of their 2004 Integrated Report. Building on the 2002 guidance, the 2004 guidance stresses the use of the same five reporting categories and emphasizes the need for scheduling monitoring activities to ensure that future reports build on increasingly robust data and information and continuing documentation of improved water quality. In addition, the 2004 guidance emphasizes the need for each State to develop a technically sound assessment methodology - a thorough documentation and discussion of the links between a State's water quality standards (WQS) and the rationale on which their assessment determinations are based. EPA believes that a transparent methodology, driving scientifically-based assessment decisions, fits within the Agency's goal of an information-based strategy to environmental protection.

The 2004 guidance directly addresses issues identified by the States and EPA during the 2002 listing and reporting cycles. There were many questions during the 2002 cycle on the use of data and sample size requirements. EPA has refined, in the 2004 guidance, what should be acceptable use of minimum data requirements and sample size requirements in making assessment determinations. EPA believes that this guidance will help EPA and the States employ scientifically and statistically valid approaches in using data and information to perform assessment determinations (place waters in one of the five categories).

The 2004 guidance also addresses the use of probability-based sampling designs in the context of the State's monitoring program. It provides further detail on integrating probability-based monitoring with the more targeted monitoring needed to make decisions on proper categorization of particular waters. EPA's goal continues to be the support of the development of State monitoring programs that balance the ability to conduct broad scale analyses of water quality conditions with the monitoring necessary to make scientifically and statistically sound assessment determinations for specific waters. EPA also wants to encourage States to support the development of volunteer monitoring programs through training and technical assistance.

The 2004 guidance also emphasizes the importance of the development and consistent application by the States of a "geo-referencing" scheme, such as National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) or another compatible format. The use of a consistent segmentation or addressing scheme allows States to report the current water quality of each defined segment, document changes in that segment since the last reporting cycle, evaluate the effectiveness of management actions to attain and maintain water quality in the segment, and to obtain insights into important ecosystem processes occurring in the segment.

The 2004 guidance also provides information on how the rotating basin approach fits into the development of the Integrated Report. EPA believes that State methodologies that account for the data collection and analysis process under a rotating basin approach can fit with the regulatory requirements to consider all existing and readily available data and information in developing Section 303(d) lists. EPA continues to support the use of the rotating basin approach.

Finally, the 2004 Integrated Report guidance describes timelines for EPA review and approval actions. EPA believes that the 2004 Integrated Report guidance provides a framework for States and EPA to provide a clear, increasingly comprehensive description of the Nation's aquatic resources, assess the effectiveness of regulatory and voluntary efforts to attain and maintain WQSs and provide all stakeholders with the ability to understand how and why waters were placed in any category.

EPA recognizes that many States substantially revamped their listing process in 2002 by developing improved methodologies and moving toward adoption of the Integrated Report. States may choose to update the 2002 Integrated Report, or Section 303(d) list and 305(b) report using data and information that have become available subsequent to the approval of the 2002 Integrated Report or Section 303(d) and 305(b) report. In these cases, EPA's review will focus on changes to the 2002 list resulting from new data and information.

EPA and the States should consider the most efficient and effective ways of approving or establishing Section 303(d) lists and updating Section 305(b) reports or Integrated Reports to meet the April 1, 2004, deadline. EPA Regions and States, and where appropriate Interstate Commissions, should hold early discussions regarding how drafts and actual submissions will be reviewed and how issues can be identified and resolved as early as possible.

Regions should work closely with States in the coming months to assure the timely completion and submittal of the 2004 report. To that end, the Regions should consider obtaining report submission schedule commitments from the States through Memorandum of Agreements (MOA), annual workplans, Performance Partnership Agreements (PPA) or other appropriate vehicles. A State's failure to adhere to these negotiated schedules may result in the establishment of the list of waters requiring TMDLs (Category 5) by EPA.

This guidance addresses the following objectives for States and Interstate Commissions (that prepare 305(b) reports):

I. A more consistent assignment of georeferenced "addresses" to each of the State's water segments,

II. A full and uniform adoption of the five-part integrated list format for reporting the status of the State's waters,

III. A thorough documentation and discussion of the linkage between the State's WQSs and the scientific and technical rationale for how the State considered data and information in placing waters into the appropriate categories.

IV. Improved coordination of listing among States with shared waters.

Finally, AWPD will work with Regions and States to assure timely submission and action on 2004 Integrated Reports. If you have any questions, please contact Mike Haire (202-566-1224).

Table of Contents | Guidance Text

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