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The New Chesapeake Bay TMDLs and Stormwater: Is A Hard Rain A-Gonna Fall?


March 19, 2014


Washington, DC (and via teleconference)

Pursuant to its authority under the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently approved total maximum daily load (TMDL) requirements for the Chesapeake Bay area that set pollutant loads for nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment. Discharge management efforts, including stormwater management, at the local level are a significant piece of the effort to meet the Chesapeake Bay TMDL reductions, and this, in turn, will require increasingly stringent restrictions on stormwater runoff and discharges from urban areas and new construction.

While some see the new TMDLs as an important new exercise of authority by EPA and a key step forward in the rehabilitation of the Chesapeake Watershed, others view the new requirements as unduly onerous and, perhaps, beyond the scope of EPA's regulatory authority. People on both sides of the debate recognize that the new TMDLs will require significant investments, including retrofits of local infrastructure and the stormwater drainage systems of DC and its neighboring cities and towns.

The DC Bar Association’s Energy, Environment and Natural Resources (EENR) Section and the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) invited experts from several of the stakeholders affected by the promulgation of the new TMDLs to discuss: (1) the merits of EPA’s new requirements; and (2) the challenges and benefits of their implementation. The panel offered multiple perspectives on the new requirements, with a healthy debate on the efficacy and legality and their ability to foster greener infrastructure and better stormwater management.

James M. McElfish, Jr., Senior Attorney; Director, Sustainable Use of Land Program, Environmental Law Institute (moderator)
Ben Grumbles, President, U.S. Water Alliance
George S. Hawkins, General Manager, District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority
Margaret "Peggy" Sanner, Virginia Assistant Director & Senior Attorney, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Brian Van Wye, Branch Chief for Program Implementation, Stormwater Management Division, District Department of the Environment