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TMDL

Many streams in Gwinnett do not currently meet established state water quality standards. In an attempt to address this issue, Georgia's Environmental Protection Division (GA EPD) has studied individual stream segments and has created Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) which express the maximum amount of pollution that a stream can receive and still meet the state standard.

Once a TMDL is established, TMDL Implementation Plans are written through a public participation process. These plans simply describe what actions and management measures will be applied within the watershed to obtain compliance with the water quality standards.

Stakeholders identified within the plans include GA EPD, local government, Boards of Commissioners, Health and Education, businesses, industries, private property owners and individuals. As one stakeholder in the TMDL process, Gwinnett County was heavily involved in plan development and is currently involved in implementing several identified management measures. These measures, along with actions taken by other stakeholders, will assist is protecting and enhancing water quality throughout the county.

The county also calls on all residents to assist in meeting these TMDL goals. You can help in this process by learning about the causes of water pollution and taking steps to prevent or reduce it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)?

In short, a TMDL is the maximum amount of pollutant that a body of water can receive and still meet state mandated water quality standards.

What kind of pollutants are you talking about?


Fecal coliform bacteria, pH, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, metals, and organic chemicals are among the many parameters that can be evaluated. In 2004 GA EPD reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that Gwinnett contained 26 stream segments that did not meet the state water quality standard for fecal coliform bacteria. A draft 2006 report has also been submitted to EPA and it identifies several additional stream segments in Gwinnett that do not meet standards for other parameters, including pH and biota. Further details, along with lists of impaired stream segments are available at GA EPD’s website.

What makes a TMDL so important?

TMDL’s are required by the Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA) to be developed for those stream segments that have remained in non-compliance with water quality standards. Section 303(d) of the CWA requires states to list waters that “support,” “partially support” or do “not support” their designated use. This list is often referred to as the 303(d) list.

What are the designated uses for waters?

The six designated uses in Georgia are (1) Drinking water supplies, (2) Recreation, (3) Fishing, (4) Wild River, and (5) Scenic River and (6) Coastal Fishing. In Gwinnett, waters are designated as drinking water supplies, recreation, and fishing. For further information on the designated uses and criteria of Georgia waters click here.

Who is responsible for managing TMDL’s?

The implementation plans identify many stakeholders in this process. Gwinnett, as one stakeholder, has identified several management measures that will assist in obtaining compliance. A full list of stakeholders and management measures are described in the various TMDL Implementation Plans (IP’s). These plans are developed around watershed boundaries.

What can I do to help?

Learn more about controlling the sources of pollution that contribute to the non-compliances within the streams where you live and work. For example, if your local stream does not meet standards for fecal coliform you could ensure that your septic system is not leaking, that you pick up after your pet and that you report any leaks, overflows or illegal dumping into the sanitary sewer system. These actions, when taken by all residents, will reduce the total pollution load on the streams and assist in meeting applicable TMDL goals.

Other TMDL related links:

Environmental Protection Agency TMDL Reports
University of Georgia River Basin Bacteria TMDL Research
Atlanta Regional Commission- Cleaner Streams Mapping
USGS- Sources of Water Information