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List of State Officials - Robert Ehrlich, Governor; Michael Steele, Lt. Governor; Kendl Philbrick, MDE Secretary 

Volume 1, Number 8

December 2005

eMDE is a monthly publication of the Maryland Department of the Environment. It covers articles on current environmental issues and events in the state. Additional monthly features include: MDE public meetings and hearings schedule, enforcement and compliance notes, and permitting activity.

Multi-Jurisdictional Approach to Improving Water Quality

By Scott C. Macomber

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MDE employee water sampling 

MDE employee water sampling 

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The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), in partnership with the Maryland Technology Extension Service (MTES), sponsors a pollution prevention intern program. The program has been successful in placing engineering students with manufacturers to identify and implement cost-saving waste reduction opportunities.

A TMDL is a Clean Water Act tool required to be used by states to achieve water quality standards for any pollutant not meeting water quality standards and listed as impaired under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act. The purpose of developing TMDLs is to establish the maximum amount of impairing substance that a waterbody can assimilate and then allocate the acceptable load among pollutant sources.

The Impaired Potomac
Portions of the Potomac River have been listed as impaired due to the levels of PCBs measured in the tissues of resident fish species. The impaired region includes the tidal portions of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers, and extends approximately 110 miles downstream to the mouth of the Potomac estuary at the Chesapeake Bay.

“As states move to develop TMDLs for multi-jurisdictional waters, cooperation and communication becomes increasingly important,” said Dr. Richard Eskin, MDE Technical and Regulatory Services Administration Director. Due to a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency, the District of Columbia must develop and submit a TMDL for its portion of the Potomac River by September 2007. Currently, MDE, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the District of Columbia Department of Health (DCDOH) are cooperating on a single TMDL for the tidal portion of the Potomac. As a result, the following activities are conducted simultaneously:

  • Gathering historical data from all known sources
  • Gathering additional data on PCB sources from wastewater treatment plants, urban stormwater, atmospheric deposition and potentially contaminated sites
  • Developing several environmental models needed to represent processes occurring within the Potomac River that impact the transport and fate of PCBs
  • Ongoing stakeholder outreach and educational activities involving quarterly meetings of the TMDL Steering Committee that are open to interested parties

In an attempt to meet the 2007 deadline, the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) is assisting the jurisdictions with data management as well as development and running of TMDL scenarios. The EPA has hired Limno Tech to adapt its Delaware Bay Estuary PCBs TMDL model to use in the current Potomac River effort.

Information regarding the Potomac TMDL development and scheduled meetings are made available on the ICPRB’s website at: http://www.potomacriver.org/cms/.

Questions regarding MDE’s participation in this effort can be directed to Scott Macomber at (410)-537-3077, or smacomber@mde.state.md.us.


©2005 Copyright MDE

Editorial Board
Maryland Department of the Environment
1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230