1999 GREAT LAKES WATER QUALITY FORUM
SEPTEMBER 24-26, 1999
LIGHTLY EDITED, VERBATIM TRANSCRIPT
SATURDAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 25
QUESTIONS AND DISCUSSION
Vicky Diesner, Ohio Environmental Council
My questions are directed at EPA. Speaking of TMDLs, have you given consideration from Region 5 to adding on or requesting, recommending to the Great Lakes states that, in addition to using endangered and threatened species and drinking water as priority for the priorities lists for TMDLs that you add on the Areas of Concern. Since it's taken so many years to do the limited amount of work that has been done, that is an opportunity to use a new system you have in place, a new regulatory system to address the Areas of Concern. Has that been a consideration of yours at all?
Yes, it has. I am going to ask Jodi Traub, our Water Division Director, to respond.
Jodi Traub, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Yes, part and parcel to the TMDL approach is the clean water action plan, and under the clean water action plan, the states were asked to prioritize their sites into categories, category one being those water bodies that are threatened in the greatest respect and that need action right away. The states are using this opportunity to classify Areas of Concern as category one sites, and most of those are TMDLs as well, so those two approaches are coming together. Those category one sites will receive the most funding, the priority funding that the states are getting from the clean water action plan in the Clean Water Act.
Also, I don't know if there is anyone here from Michigan, but I thought I would give you an example of how this is really working well in Michigan with respect to AOCs. The state was able to obtain millions of dollars through their bond recently for their clean-up Michigan fund, and in making awards under that fund, they are making Areas of Concern a priority, so that when people apply for those dollars or when they're used for sediment clean-ups in the state, that will be one of the priority areas. I think we have a number of new tools in place that will do exactly what you are suggesting.
Okay. One of the other new tools, speaking of citizen involvement, is the additional 319 money. What I would suggest to you is you need to give guidelines to the states how they need to change their programs for that additional money, because currently in Ohio they are still using the old guidelines given out for old BMPs projects, not looking at planning, not looking at watershed involvement for TMDLs and, in fact, in Ohio they don't even have enough applicants to get the money. You really need to give guidelines to the states in regarding this new funding tool to allow them to get out and start doing some of the restoration work that they need to do. Thank you.
That is an excellent suggestion and we have all of our state water directors coming together here early November for a meeting to talk about those very issues.
So could we citizens expect guidelines out on 319 maybe in December then?
We will certainly talk about that at our meeting and see if can get something out on the integration.
It would be very much appreciated. Thank you.
I might just add to that. We have encouraged all of our states to access state revolving funds for areas that have been traditionally looked at for use of those funds, which normally go towards wastewater treatment plants, that sort of thing. We have encouraged states to access those funds for non-point source discharge type activities and we will continue to work with our states and encourage them to do so.
And once again, if you could give help to the states on how to utilize those funds, because it doesn't seem they are quite on the same path as far as the knowledge of utilizing those as you are. In addition, Frank, we do owe you a priority letter on the issue of prohibition. Remember from the July meeting?
Yes. Thank you.