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The TMDL Program: Our Best Policy Option for Addressing Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution?

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Pp. 333-343 in Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Environmental Regulations: Proceedings of the March 11-13, 2002 Conference, (Fort Worth, Texas, USA)  701P0102.(doi:10.13031/2013.7578)
Authors:   Ron Jones and Jim Vergura

Over the past twenty-five years the United States has made great strides in cleaning up its rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal waters. This progress is directly attributable to our success in controlling point source pollution that originates from industry and municipal wastewater treatment plants. Effective control of point source pollution began in 1972 with passage of the Clean Water Act (PL 92-500, 1972; PL 95-217, 1977) and its primary regulatory mechanism, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) (USC, 2000). The NPDES program is an effluent limitation-based regulatory regime that restricts discharges to a technology-based standard (USC, 2000). Discharges of effluents are allowed only if they are in compliance with national limitations, and only by first obtaining a permit to discharge within those limits (USC, 2000). By any measure, the technology approach to point source pollution has produced significant results (Houck, 1997). Industrial pollution has plummeted and municipal loadings have dropped, despite the doubling and more of the populations they serve (Houck, 1997).

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