Questions and Answers Regarding Nebraska’s
Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Program


What is a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)?
A Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, is the maximum amount of a pollutant a waterbody can receive and still meet its appropriate water quality criteria or goal. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality is continuing to develop TMDLs in waterbodies across the state, giving priority attention to those waterbodies that have been listed as Category 5 - or impaired by one or more pollutants - in the state’s bi-annual Surface Water Quality Integrated Report.

What factors must be considered when determining a TMDL?
When determining this maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive (also known as “loading capacity”), NDEQ considers the following contributions:
How do water quality management plans fit in to the TMDL process?
There are two major portions of the TMDL process. First is the identification of impaired waters, through the Section 303 (d) list of impaired waters, which is found in the agency’s Integrated Report. The second step is the development and implementation of water quality management plans to remediate or protect the listed waters.
The development of a TMDL includes: If a TMDL is required for a waterbody, contributing sources to the pollutant loads may be required to make reductions.

When is a TMDL required?
TMDLs are required for all waterbodies that have been included in Category 5 of Nebraska’s Surface Water Quality Integrated Report. Category 5 is identified as: “Waterbodies where one or more beneficial uses are determined to be impaired by one or more pollutants and all of the TMDLs have not been developed. Category 5 waters constitute the Section 303(d) list subject to EPA approval/disapproval.”

What is the “Integrated Report”?
The Integrated Report is a comprehensive summary of the water quality of Nebraska’s surface water quality resources. The report provides the general public information on the status of the State’s waters and allows for future water quality management planning (future monitoring, TMDL development, best management practice implementation).

Is the Integrated Report new?
In the past, the NDEQ prepared two documents as required by the Clean Water Act. They are:

In 2003, EPA issued guidance which combines these two reports into one “Integrated Report.” EPA’s goal for this report is to provide the general public with a comprehensive summary of state and national water quality.

What data is used to develop Nebraska’s Integrated Report?
The NDEQ utilizes all available data that meets the established data quality requirements for use in the Section 303(d) listing process. The data quality requirements are described in the Methodologies for Waterbody Assessment and Development of the 2008 Integrated Report for Nebraska. The NDEQ will consider any data provided by other agencies, organizations or the public.

Where can I get a copy of Nebraska’s Surface Water Quality Integrated Report?
The Nebraska Surface Water Quality Integrated Reports are available on this web site or can be obtained by contacting NDEQ. The direct link to the Impaired Waters and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) web page is: http://www.deq.state.ne.us/SurfaceW.nsf/Pages/TMDL

How will TMDLs be developed?
There are many ways to develop a TMDL. A TMDL can be developed using simple calculations or complex water quality models. Its development is dependent upon the waterbody involved, properties of its watershed, pollutants of concern, local stakeholder involvement, as well as other considerations. The method used depends on the seriousness of the water quality problem, data available and the potential ramifications of the final outcome on the people and businesses of Nebraska. The goal of all TMDLs will include the minimum elements of a loading capacity, wasteload allocation, load allocations, margin of safety and consideration of seasonal variation.

What happens after the NDEQ completes a TMDL?
After the TMDL is initially developed by the NDEQ it will be made available to local stakeholders and the public for review and comment. Public availability announcements will be mailed to interested parties and posted on the NDEQ’s website. Those that are currently open for public comment will be listed in the TMDL category in the Public Notice portion of the website. The NDEQ will allow a minimum of 30 days for the receipt of comments. Once the comment period closes, all received comments will be reviewed and, if appropriate, utilized to prepare a final TMDL. The final TMDL will then be submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 7 Office, for their approval.

What is EPA’s role after the TMDL has been submitted?
Once a final TMDL is submitted to EPA, EPA has 30 days to approve or disapprove the TMDL. If EPA disapproves the submitted TMDL, then, by federal regulations, EPA must revise or develop a new TMDL within 30 days. If EPA approves the submitted TMDL, the state then proceeds to implement the identified water quality management measures needed in order for the waterbody to attain the applicable water quality criteria or goal.

How can the public get involved in the TMDL process?
Is there information on the TMDL program available on the Internet?
There are several active web sites that contain information on the TMDL program, including state, federal and nonprofit organizations. These sites include:

Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality – Main page is: www.deq.state.ne.us The direct link to NDEQ’s Impaired Waters and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) web page is: http://www.deq.state.ne.us/SurfaceW.nsf/Pages/TMDL
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – www.epa.gov/owow/tmdl/
America’s Clean Water Foundations – www.acwf.org
America’s Clean Water Foundation/Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control
Administrators – www.tmdls.net

Who can I contact if I have questions regarding the Nebraska TMDL program?
If you have questions or need additional information, contact:

TMDL Coordinator
Planning Unit, Water Quality Division
Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Lincoln, Nebraska
402/471-3382



Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
1200 "N" Street, Suite 400
P.O. Box 98922
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509
(402) 471-2186