Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)

In July of 1997 the state of Georgia came under a federal court order to develop Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) rates and implementation plans on water quality impaired stream segments identified in a 2000 federal report resulting from non-point sources of pollution, which includes forestry operations. The Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) was appointed by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to develop the forestry component for TMDL plans.

According to the federal requirements and proposals, this could involve permits, written silvicultural plans, plan reviews, Best Management Practices (BMP) auditing and monitoring of every forestry operation within the watershed of a listed stream for a period of 5 years or until the stream is evaluated again during the River Basin cycle and is either de-listed or kept on the list for another 5 years. Once the plan is developed, it must be submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and put out for public comment. The plan must be approved by the federal court and, if approved, becomes law.

Since January 2003, the GFC has conducted monthly BMP assurance examinations targeting impaired watersheds in an effort to provide reasonable assurance that forestry operations are in compliance with forestry BMPs and meet any TMDL requirements. Listed pollutants in targeted watersheds include biota and dissolved oxygen pollutants. Active forestry operations sites are identified from aerial or ground observations, landowners, companies or operators, or by county tax records and then inspected for BMP implementation with the landowner's permission. The intent of the assurance examinations is to educate landowners about BMPs and their responsibilities and liabilities with state water quality laws and to provide on-the-ground assistance to loggers or operators before potential water quality problems occur.

The State of Georgia assesses its water bodies for compliance with water quality standards criteria established for their designated uses as required by the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA). Click here for more information on TMDL in Georgia.