Implementing Clean Water Act Section 303(d): Impaired Waters and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)

Implementing Clean Water Act Section 303(d): Impaired Waters and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)

A TMDL is a pollution budget and includes a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that can occur in a waterbody and allocates the necessary reductions to one or more pollutant sources. A TMDL serves as a planning tool and potential starting point for restoration or protection activities with the ultimate goal of attaining or maintaining water quality standards.Under section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, states, territories and authorized tribes (included in the term State here) are required to submit lists of impaired waters. These are waters that are too polluted or otherwise degraded to meet water quality standards. The law requires that the states establish priority rankings for waters on the lists and develop Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) for these waters.

Lists of impaired waters and TMDLs are reviewed in EPA’s regional offices.