Impaired Waters and TMDLs: What You Can Do
Engaging local communities and individual citizens is essential to any waterbody restoration effort. There are a number of ways the public can get involved in the listing of impaired waters and TMDL development process. EPA is working with the states to provide more opportunities for building public alliances and tapping into a community’s unique knowledge, insight and viewpoint.
Get to Know Your Waterbody
There are a number of resources, tools and databases available that provide information about your watershed and your waterbody. Many of these are designed to explain often complex or technical scientific or regulatory process in plain, everyday language. Each resource allows citizens to find out more about a specific waterbody in his/her neighborhood or community in an easily understandable format.
Get Involved in Water Quality Regulation
The Agency believes there should be full and meaningful public participation throughout the impaired waters listing and TMDL developmental process. For example, EPA encourages states to post draft impaired waters lists and TMDL reports for public review and comment in a way that is consistent with its own continuing planning process. The public can include, but is not limited to, homeowners and landowners, nonprofit organizations, local businesses, universities as well as city planners, transportation departments and local zoning officials. These people often have historical knowledge of the distinctive problems facing the waterbody and more than likely have first-hand understanding of its decline over the years. States communicate with the public via newspapers, websites, town hall meetings or other viable means.
Get Involved in Water Quality Restoration
Citizens are encouraged to become involved in maintaining or restoring waters in their neighborhood. Local communities often have a personal stake in the fate of the water. Residents and local businesses can help identify critical issues, set priorities and preliminary goals, assist decision-makers, or initiate and implement restoration activities at the ground level. One way to get involved is by starting or joining a watershed, lake or river association. These associations can provide opportunities to monitor water quality, identify pollutant sources and recommend viable pollution control actions.