On Jan. 7, four environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) alleged improper approval of total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) and the agency’s failure to require them in the absence of West Virginia state limits. The lawsuit, which covers six final actions in West Virginia waterways, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia by the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, the Sierra Club, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, and the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.

According to the groups, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) failed to create TMDLs for biologically impaired streams, and EPA did not respond to public comments addressing this issue. Further, where EPA approved state plans with no TMDLs, it accepted without analysis West Virginia’s claim that there was insufficient information to determine causative pollutants and associated impairment thresholds.

In addition to their challenge of six TMDL actions, the groups also ask that EPA develop TMDLs for 179 ionically stressed streams and 387 biologically impaired streams as soon as possible.