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TMDL Decision Support: Lessons Learned from a Nitrogen Load Control Study in Virginia's Potomac Watershed
Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.orgCitation: Pp. 18-25 in Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Environmental Regulations: Proceedings of the March 11-13, 2002 Conference, (Fort Worth, Texas, USA) 701P0102.(doi:10.13031/2013.7524)
Authors: T. M. Doley and Dr. D. Benelmouffok
Keywords: TMDL, Loads, Watershed, Management, Implementation, Allocation, Optimization
Currently there is a wide array of water quality models to assist in establishing TMDLs for
impaired waterways. However, once established, TMDL implementation must take into account
economic and political factors, uncertainty, future population growth and land use changes, as
well as issues of equitability and feasibility. Tools that can help incorporate these considerations
into TMDL implementation are lacking. Virginia is currently implementing its Potomac
Tributary Strategy to reduce nutrient loads to the river by 40%. This effort has many similarities
to the implementation of a TMDL. In 1998, a study was completed, which assessed the optimal
combination of load control efforts that achieve the nutrient reduction goal for the Potomac.
Study objectives were to: project annual nitrogen inputs to Potomac over 15 years; estimate the
minimum annual costs for attaining the goal; and assess potential cost savings from using
alternative development patterns within rapidly urbanizing areas. The model developed for the
study uses water quality modeling results in conjunction with land use and economic data to
assess temporal and spatial distributions of costs for controlling loads from various point sources
and land uses.