1.1 PURPOSE OF THIS DOCUMENT
The purpose of this Basinwide Water Quality Management Plan is to report to citizens, policy makers and the regulated community on:
• the current status of surface water quality in the basin,
• major water quality concerns and issues,
• projected trends in development and water quality,
• the long-range water quality goals for the basin, and
• recommended point and nonpoint source management options.
This Plan presents strategies for management of both point and nonpoint sources of pollution. The Division of Water Quality (previously Division of Environmental Managment) is preparing a basinwide water quality management plan for each of the state's 17 major river basins, as shown in Figure 1.1
Figure 1.1 Basinwide Management Plan Schedule (1996 to 2001)
1.2 GUIDE TO USE OF THIS DOCUMENT
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Chapter 1 - Introduction
CHAPTER 1: Introduction - This chapter provides a non-technical description of the purpose of this plan, the basinwide water quality management approach and how this approach will be administered. The description of the basinwide management approach is based primarily on a 54-page framework document entitled North Carolina's Basinwide Approach to Water Quality
Management: Program Description - Final Report/August 1991 (Creager and Baker, 1991).
CHAPTER 2: General Basin Description - Some of the specific topics covered in this chapter
• an overview of the major features such as location, rainfall, population, physiography, etc.
• hydrology of the basin and its subbasins
• a summary of land cover within the basin based on results of a 1982 and 1992 Nationwide Resources Inventory (NRI) conducted by the US Department of
Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.
• population growth trends and densities by subbasin using 1970, '80 and '90 census data.
• major water uses in the basin and DWQ's program of water quality classifications and
CHAPTER 3: Causes of Impairment and Sources of Water Pollution - This chapter
describes both point and nonpoint sources of pollution. It also describes a number of important causes of water quality impacts including sediment, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), toxic substances, nutrients, color, fecal coliform bacteria and others. Pollutant loading in the basin and general water quality problem areas are discussed.
CHAPTER 4: Water Quality and Use Support Ratings - This chapter describes the various
types of water quality monitoring conducted by DWQ, summarizes water quality in each of the subbasins in the basin and presents a summary of use support ratings for those surface waters that have been monitored or evaluated.
CHAPTER 5: Water Quality Programs and Program Initiatives in the Basin - Chapter 5
summarizes the existing point and nonpoint source control programs available to address water quality problems. These programs are management tools available for addressing the priority water quality concerns and issues that are identified in Chapter 6. Chapter 5 also describes the concept of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). TMDLs represent management strategies aimed at controlling point and nonpoint source pollutants. This chapter also describes various program initiatives being implemented in the basin to address water quality problems.
CHAPTER 6: Major Water Quality Concerns and Recommended Management Strategies
- Water quality issues identified in Chapters 2, 3 and 4 are evaluated and prioritized based on use-support ratings, degree of impairment, and the sensitivity of the aquatic resources being affected. Recommended management strategies, or TMDLs, are presented that describe how the available water quality management tools and strategies described in Chapter 5 will be applied in the basin. This includes generalized wasteload allocations for dischargers and recommended programs and best management practices for controlling nonpoint sources.
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Chapter 1 - Introduction
CHAPTER 7: Future Initiatives - This chapter presents future initiatives for protecting or
improving water quality in the basin. These may include both programatic initiatives such as
improving permit compliance, or basin-specific initiatives such as developing strategies for
restoring impaired waters.
1.3 NORTH CAROLINA'S BASINWIDE MANAGEMENT APPROACH
Introduction - Basinwide water quality management is a watershed-based management approach being implemented by DWQ which features basinwide permitting, integrating existing point and nonpoint source control programs, and preparing basinwide management plans. DWQ is applying this approach to each of the seventeen major river basins in the state as a means of better identifying water quality problems, developing appropriate management strategies, maintaining and protecting water quality and aquatic habitat, and assuring equitable distribution of waste assimilative capacity for dischargers.
After conducting public workshops to identify areas of concern and major issues, a basinwide management plan is prepared for each basin. The plans are circulated for public review and are presented at public meetings in each river basin. The management plan for a given basin is completed and approved preceding the scheduled date for basinwide discharge permit renewals in that basin. The plans are then evaluated, based on followup water quality monitoring, and updated at five year intervals.
DWQ began formulating the idea of basinwide management in the late 1980s, established a basin permitting schedule in 1990, began basinwide monitoring activities in 1990, and published a basinwide program description in August 1991. Basinwide management entails coordinating and integrating, by major river basin, DWQ's water quality program activities. These activities, which are discussed further in Section 1.4, include permitting, monitoring, modeling, nonpoint source assessments, and planning.
Water Quality Program Benefits - Several benefits of basinwide planning and management to
North Carolina's Water quality program include:
Improved program efficiency. By reducing the area of the state covered each year, •
monitoring, modeling, and permitting efforts can be focused. As a result, increased fficiency
can be achieved for a given level of funding and resource allocation.
• Increased effectiveness. The basinwide approach is in consonance with basic ecological
watershed management principles, leading to more effective water quality assessment and
management. Linkages between aquatic and terrestrial systems are addressed (e.g.,
contributions from nonpoint sources). All inputs to aquatic systems and potential interactive,
synergistic and cumulative effects are considered.
• Better consistency and equitability . By clearly defining the program's long-term goals and
approaches, basinwide plans will encourage consistent decision-making on permits and
water quality improvement strategies. Consistency and greater attention to long-range
planning will promote a more equitable distribution of assimilative capacity, explicitly
addressing the trade-offs among pollutant sources and allowances for economic growth.
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Chapter 1 - Introduction
• Increased public awareness of the state's water quality protection programs. The
basinwide plans are an educational tool for increasing public awareness on water quality issues within the basin.
• Basinwide management promotes integration of point and nonpoint source pollution
assessment and controls. Once waste loadings from both point and nonpoint sources are
established, management strategies can be developed to prevent overloading of the receiving
waters and to allow for a reasonable margin of safety to ensure compliance with water quality
Basinwide Planning Schedule - The following table presents the overall basin schedule for all 17 major river basins in the state. Included are the dates for permit reissuance and the dates by which management plans are to be completed for each basin.
Table 1.1 Basinwide Permitting and Planning Schedule for North Carolina's 17 Major River
Basins (1993 through 1998).
Target Date Discharge Target Date Discharge
for Basin Permits to for Basin Permits to
Basin Plan Approval be Issued Basin Plan Approval be Issued
Neuse 2/93(approved) 4/93 Roanoke 9/96(approved) 1/97
White Oak 1/97(approved) 6/97
Lumber 5/94(approved) 11/94 Savannah 4/97(approved) 8/97
Watauga 4/97(approved) 9/97
Tar-Pamlico 12/94(approved) 1/95 Little Tennessee 5/97(approved) 10/97
Catawba 2/95(approved) 4/95 Hiwassee 5/97(approved) 12/97
French Broad 5/95(approved) 8/95
New 7/95(approved) 11/95 Chowan 8/97 1/98
Pasquotank 8/97 1/98
Cape Fear 9/95(approved) 1/96 Neuse (2nd cycle) 11/97 4/98
Yadkin-Pee Dee 1/98 7/98
Broad 6/98 11/98
The number of plans to be developed each year varies from one to six and is based on the total number of permits to be issued each year. For example, the Cape Fear basin, the state's largest, has about as many dischargers as all six of the small basins in 1997. This has been done in order to balance the permit processing workload from year to year. In years where more than one basin is scheduled to be evaluated, an effort has been made to group at least some of the basins geographically in order to minimize travel time and cost for field studies and public meetings.
Plans to be updated every five years - The earliest basin plans will likely not achieve all of the long-term objectives for basinwide management outlined above. However, plans are updated every 5 years. Updated plans will incorporate additional data and new assessment tools (e.g., basinwide water quality modeling) and management strategies (e.g., for reducing nonpoint source contributions) as they become available.
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Chapter 1 - Introduction
Basinwide Plan Preparation, Review and Public Involvement - Preparation of an individual
basinwide management plan is a five year process which is broken down into four phases as described below.
Year 1 to 3 Water Quality Data Collection/Identification of Goals and Issues:
Year 1 entails identifying sampling needs and canvassing for information. It also
entails coordinating with other agencies, the academic community and local
interest groups to begin establishing goals and objectives and identifying and
prioritizing problems and issues. Biomonitoring, fish community and tissue
analyses, special studies and other water quality sampling activities are conducted
in Years 2 and 3 by DWQ's Environmental Sciences Branch (ESB). These studies
provide information for assessing water quality status and trends throughout the
basin and provide data for computer modeling.
Year 3 to 4 Data Assessment and Model Preparation: Modeling priorities are identified early
in this phase and are refined through assessment of water quality data from the
ESB. Data from special studies are then used by DWQ's Technical Support
Branch (TSB) to prepare models for estimating potential impacts of waste loading
from point and nonpoint sources using the TMDL approach. Preliminary water
quality control strategies are developed based on modeling, with input from local
governments, the regulated community and citizen groups during this period. Year 4 Preparation of Draft Basinwide Plan: The draft plan, which is prepared by DWQ's
Planning Branch, is due for completion by the end of year 4. It is based on
support documents prepared by DWQ's Environmental Sciences Branch (water
quality data) and the Technical Support Branch (modeling data and recommended
pollution control strategies). Preliminary findings are presented at informal
meetings through the year with local governments and interested groups, and
comments are incorporated into the draft.
Year 5 Public Review and Approval of Plan: At the beginning of year 5, the draft plan,
after approval of the Environmental Management Commission (EMC), is
circulated for review and public meetings are held. Revisions are made to the
document, based on public comments, and the final document is submitted to the
EMC for approval midway through year 5. Basinwide permitting begins at the
end of year 5.
Implementation - The implementation of basinwide planning and management will occur in phases. Permitting activities and associated routine support activities (field sampling, modeling, wasteload allocation calculations, etc.) have already been rescheduled by major river basin. All National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit renewals within a basin occur within a prescribed time period after completion of the final basin plan, and will be repeated at five year intervals.
Nonpoint source management proposals will be implemented by several different avenues. The Water Quality Section is setting up nonpoint source (NPS) teams for each basin. These teams are made up of representatives of nonpoint source agencies, resource agencies, and special interest groups. The NPS teams are responsible for prioritizing specific watersheds for follow-up
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Chapter 1 - Introduction
investigations, educational efforts, and best management practice (BMP) implementation. Funding for BMP implementation will be sought from sources such as existing cost-share monies or from federal Section 319 grants. In addition to projects in specific watersheds, the NPS team will develop programmatic action plans for each category of nonpoint source pollution. The action plans detail voluntary actions that agencies and groups have committed to complete to protect and improve water quality in the basin. Many of the action plan items involve increased educational efforts or enforcement of existing programs.
1.4 BASINWIDE RESPONSIBILITIES WITHIN THE DWQ WATER QUALITY
The Division of Water Quality is the lead state agency for the regulation and protection of the state's surface waters. The Division is comprised of four sections: Water Quality, Groundwater, Construction Grants and Loans and the Water Quality Laboratory.
The primary responsibilities of the Division of Water Quality are to maintain or restore an aquatic environment to sufficient quality to protect the existing and best intended uses of North Carolina's surface waters and to ensure compliance with state and federal water quality standards. The Division receives both state and federal allocations as well as funding through permit fee collections. Policy guidance is provided by the Environmental Management Commission. The major areas of responsibility are water quality monitoring, permitting, planning, modeling (wasteload allocations) and compliance oversight.
The Central office is divided into four branches, each branch is subdivided into two units (Figure 1.2 and Appendix I). The Planning Branch is responsible for developing surface water quality
standards and classifications, nonpoint source program planning, administering the basinwide
management program, modeling nonpoint pollution sources, developing use support ratings and improving the section's GIS capabilities. It also coordinates EPA water quality planning grants, state environmental policy act responsibilities and the implementation of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) that resulted from the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine Study (APES).
The Operations Branch is responsible for permit compliance tracking, the pretreatment program, water supply watershed protection/local government technical support, and the operator training and certification program.
The Technical Support Branch is responsible for reviews and processing of discharge and
nondischarge permits, coordinating development of TMDLs and wasteload allocations for dischargers, and providing primary computer modeling support.
The Environmental Sciences Branch is responsible for all biological and chemical water quality
monitoring and evaluation including benthic macroinvertebrate monitoring (biomonitoring), fish tissue and fish communities studies, and the wetlands 401 Water Quality Certification program. The Branch is also responsible for effluent toxicity testing and evaluations, algal analyses, long term biochemical and sediment oxygen demand, and lakes assessments.
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Chapter 1 - Introduction
The seven Regional Offices carry out activities such as wetland reviews, compliance evaluations, permit reviews and facility inspections for both discharging and nondischarging systems, ambient water quality monitoring, state environmental policy act reviews, stream reclassification reviews, pretreatment program support and operator training and certification assistance. In addition, they respond to water quality emergencies such as oil spills and fish kills, investigate complaints and provide information to the public. Figure 1.3 shows the location of the regional offices and the counties that they serve.
REFERENCES CITED: CHAPTER 1
Creager, C.S., and J. P. Baker, 1991, North Carolina's Basinwide Approach to Water Quality
Management: Program Description, DWQ Water Quality Section, Raleigh, NC.
WATER QUALITY SECTION
OPERATIONS BRANCH TECHNICAL SUPPORT BRANCH
FACILITY PERMITS & INSTREAMWQ TECHNICALASSISTANCE UNITASSESSMENT UNIT ENGINEERING UNITASSESSMENT UNIT
OPERATOR COMPLEXRAPIDTRANING &PRETREATMENT ISSUESASSESSMENTCERT. UNIT GROUP GROUPGROUPWATER SUPPLYCOMPLIANCEPROTECTION &NPDESSTATESTORMWATER GROUPLOC GOVT TECHGROUPGROUP GROUPASST. GROUP
ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING BRANCH SCIENCES BRANCH
ECOSYSTEMSW.Q. PLANNING ANDBASINWIDEANALYSIS UNIT ASSESSMENT UNITASSESSMENT
BIOLOGICALECOLOGICALNONPOINT SOURCEPUBLIC COORD./ASSESSMENT ASSESS.PLANNING GROUP GROUPIMPLEMENTATION GROUP
WATERSHEDCLASSIFICATIONAQUATIC SURVEY & TOXICOLOGY UNITANALYSES GROUPAND STANDARDS GROUPINTENSIVEAQUATICTOXICOLOGY SURVEYGROUP GROUP
ASHEVILLEWASHINGTONMOORESVILLEREGIONAL OFFICEREGIONAL OFFICEREGIONAL OFFICE
FAYETTEVILLERALEIGHWILMINGTONWINSTON-SALEMREGIONAL OFFICE REGIONAL OFFICEREGIONAL OFFICEREGIONAL OFFICE
Figure 1.2 Organizational Structure of the DWQ Water Quality Section
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Chapter 1 - Introduction
Figure 1.3 Location of Division of Water Quality Regional Offices
Back to the Savannah Basin Plan Index
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