A plan is under way to reform the total maximum daily load (TMDL) process. The final TMDL 10-year vision plan is expected this fall. It has been an ongoing joint federal–state effort since 2011 that gives states, for the first time, the flexibility to prioritize assessments. The plan is not a regulation or mandate but would go into effect in 2016.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which administers the TMDL program, 65,000 TMDLs have been written, yet many waters still have to be assessed. The goal of the vision is to improve the program so that water quality benefits are maximized while burdens on states are eased.

The plan will also focus on alternatives to TMDLs, public engagement, integration with other water programs, and assessing healthy and impaired waters on a site-specific basis. The next step is for the Association of Clean Water Administrators to complete a survey of current state approaches, reasons to prioritize projects, and success stories from states already doing so.