Hiwassee River Basin Plan Chapter 1

By Brandon Peters,2014-03-26 19:33
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on a 54-page framework document entitled North Carolina's Basinwide Approach document is submitted to the EMC for approval midway through year 5.




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)


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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 include:

     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.

    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

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    Chapter 1 - Introduction

    improving permit compliance, or basin-specific initiatives such as developing strategies for

    restoring impaired waters.


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.

     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.

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    Chapter 1 - Introduction

     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 Target Date Discharge Target Date Discharge

     Basins (1993 through 1998). 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.

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.

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    Chapter 1 - Introduction

    Year Activity

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


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

    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

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    Chapter 1 - Introduction

    water quality in the basin. Many of the action plan items involve increased educational efforts or

    enforcement of existing programs.



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 A). 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.

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.

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Chapter 1 - Introduction


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.

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Chapter 1 - Introduction

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 Hiwassee Basin Plan Index

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