Linda A. Malone


The Total Maximum Daily Load program of section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act has always met with resistance and opposition from state governments in implementation. The TMDL program provides a process for identifying waters that fail to satisfy state water quality standards to impose additional limitations. This article reviews the checkered and troubled history of the program since 1972 and examines the states' criticisms of the program for their validity. The controversy over the TMDL program is viewed against the backdrop of the problem of nonpoint source pollution. Nonpoint source pollution continues to be the primary source of contamination to the nation's waters. The article stresses that the most significant problem with the TMDL program is the lack of political will, at the state and federal level, to implement it with mandatory controls on nonpoint source pollution. With state and local land use authority over nonpoint sources, the responsibility for improving impaired waters ultimately lies with these authorities. In conclusion, the article suggests that localities have the incentive and the coordinated support to be the new stewards of water quality.