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TMDLs can be scary for a variety of reasons, one of which is that the TMDL requirements of the Clean Water Act were ignored in most states for years and the process is now proceeding under court orders, including court-imposed time frames.
TMDL's can also be scary if you get quantitative too quickly. A lot of the early work was based on computer modeling of water quality. Modeling is a great tool, but by itself has no power to persuade folks to clean up the stream, or even to provide a useful explanation of how to clean up the stream.
There is lots of literature out there, including EPA's own guidance documents, as well as some real examples of how the TMDL process can be become an opportunity for a holistic and inclusive process that looks at a watershed and finds ways to improve water quality. This usually works through some sort of citizen's watershed council.
TMDLs offer an opportunity for planners to improve development location and practices as they affect water quality (and since water quality is so basic, in many related ways).
We're entering into the process. State is taking the lead and are relying heavily on modeling. Their models are based on some dubious assumptions.Anyone been through the drill and have a list of "do's and don'ts"?