Other Efforts to Protect Clean Water
There are multiple strategies to prevent polluted runoff on
agricultural lands. Coordination between state agencies and the
federal government help to prevent polluted runoff on
- Federal and State Coordination
- Inter-Agency Coordination
Federal and State Coordination
Total Maximum Daily Load (Water Cleanup Plan) Implementation
The federal Clean Water Act requires the Department of
Ecology to develop total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for state
waters that have been declared polluted. TMDLs are responsible
for directing state waters from being polluted to being clean
and safe and keeping them so.
Although total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) map out the path to
restore state waters to clean, actual results are only derived
when the TMDL’s actions are implemented. The implementation
process requires both Ecology and local partners to institute
water pollution controls for all identified sources. However,
the process for instituting pollution controls occurs somewhat
differently, depending on the nature of the pollution source.
For facilities with a discharge permit, existing water
pollution controls are updated and improved as part of the TMDL
implementation process. These controls are developed to ensure
that the objectives of the TMDL are met, bringing both the
facility and the waterbody in compliance with the law.
For pollution sources that do not have a permit (often known
as nonpoint source pollution), Ecology uses other means to
implement the TMDL. For example, Ecology implementation staff
may work with landowners and conservation districts to get water
pollution controls applied on a parcel-by-parcel basis.
Importantly, these pollution controls, also known as best
management practices, are required to be implemented to a level
that ensures that both the water body and the landowner will
comply with state and federal water quality regulation. To the
greatest extent feasible, Ecology uses educational and
incentive-based approaches to accomplish this task. However,
enforcement is used to prevent and reduce sources when
immediate action in required, or when pollution threatens the
beneficial uses of that water.
Ecology also works with local partners to build support and
stewardship for state waters through various facets of local
decision-making. For example, TMDL science may inform local
decision-making about the impacts of land use on the clean-up
process, as well as on water quality in general. Also,
implementation staff may work with local partners to develop or
enhance existing pollution control programs to address pollution
sources squarely within the local partner’s jurisdiction. No
matter what the context, though, the theme is always the same –
following the TMDL road map to institute pollution controls
which will return polluted waters back to being clean and safe,
and keeping them that way.
Learn more about Water Quality
Improvement projects (Total Maximum Daily Load studies).
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Straight to Implementation
In addition to TMDLs, Ecology may also use different
watershed clean-up strategies. These approaches, commonly
referred to as straight to implementation, do not set
numeric daily maximum pollution loads but instead place greater emphasis
and resources on the pollution control implementation phase.
This strategy is used when permitted facilities are not present and
if the proposed pollution
controls have been proven to attain compliance. Ultimately, the
straight to implementation process is one of efficiently
instituting pollution controls through active, on-the-ground,
clean-up efforts. Examples:
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Effectiveness monitoring (EM) is a fundamental
component of water quality cleanup efforts. At one level, it
measures to what extent the waterbody has improved and whether
it has been brought into compliance with state water quality
standards. At a different level, EM evaluates total maximum
daily load (TMDL) implementation, watershed management plan
implementation, and other watershed-based cleanup activities.
Success may be measured against TMDL load allocations, water
quality standards, targets correlated with baseline conditions,
or other desired future conditions.
The expectations of EM evaluation
- Is the restoration or implementation work achieving the
desired objectives or goals?
- How can restoration or implementation techniques be improved,
or adaptively managed?
- Is the improvement sustainable?
Learn more about
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