The TMDL Flavor of the Day

Read about the Challenges, Innovation and Collaboration at the Chesapeake Bay TMDL Symposium.

The ACEC/MW Chesapeake Bay TMDL Symposium took place at the College Park Marriott & Conference Center in Hyattsville, Maryland on February 19, 2020. The theme was “Meeting the Goals with Different Flavors.” The purpose of the event was to learn about the different approaches being used to meet the MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) and TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Loads) goals in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. The symposium included a continental breakfast, excellent presentations, a delicious lunch, and an engaging panel discussion. The challenges, innovation, and collaboration used by various jurisdictions were presented and discussed by the following six invited speakers.
  • Anne Arundel County - Erik Michelsen, Watershed Protection and Restoration Program Administrator
  • Department of Energy and Environment - Jonathan Champion, Associate Director
  • Fairfax County - Heather Ambrose, MS4 Permit Coordinator
  • Loudoun County Government - Dennis H. Cumbie, Water and Environmental Programs Division Manager
  • Montgomery County - Frank W. Dawson, Division Chief
  • Virginia Department of Transportation - Tracey Harmon, TMDL Program Manager
The speakers did an amazing job during their individual presentations about how to improve water quality. Some of the key takeaways were as follows:
  • Increased maintenance needs for the ever-growing number of installed Best Management Practices (BMPs).
  • More water bodies are being listed for a variety of impairments including nutrients, sediments, bacteria, PCBs, chloride, trash, and other chemicals.
  • How to address septic concerns.
  • Funding existing and future approaches.
  • Great strategies and innovative crediting such as stormwater retention, credit trading, and innovative crediting (e.g., pollinator habitat, aquaculture reef ball credits).
  • Coordination of multiple activities to meet multiple TMDLs.
  • Re-evaluation of how to finance the activities (e.g., use of State Revolving loan fund rather than bonds) or alternative delivery methods (e.g., Pay for Performance).
Working with the following organizations to ensure they are trained and understand the why behind what they do: 
  • Multiple federal, state, and local jurisdictions
  • Community organizations and associations
  • Grant agencies
  • Regulatory agencies
  • Staff within the government agencies 
  • School groups and educators
The six speakers participated in the panel by discussing various topics, answering questions from the audience, and providing a forecast for the future.
Featured Topics 
  • Environmental justice
  • Teaming between agencies within a jurisdiction (e.g., DDOE and DDOT) for green infrastructure
  • Operation and maintenance needs
  • Nutrient trading
  • Trash TMDLs
  • Capital Cost ($/lb/yr) of TN, TP, TSS by practice (e.g., stream restoration, pond retrofit, bioretention)
Intriguing Questions
  • As someone who works with private developers, as well as public MS4's, my eyes were widened when seeing the cost per acre and cost per pound of nutrient removal for micro-bioretention vs. stream restoration. Right now, in Maryland, stream restoration is not allowed for new development to meet Environmental Site Design (ESD). Do you see the potential benefit of working with private developers to treat existing and proposed impervious areas?
    • Answer: Yes, the jurisdictions would like to work with the BMP panels and regulatory agencies to continue to discuss crediting options that might be available.
  • Has VDOT received any updated information on when VDEQ will be releasing a revised guidance memo for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL development?
    • Answer: No
  • Does the cost per implementation area credit numbers include a life cycle analysis?
    • Answer: Yes
Looking into the Future
  • Working with the education systems and young people today will help to spread the word about the importance of water quality. Some jurisdictions indicated that they were fortunate to be able to dedicate staff and entire programs to this cause. 
  • Public education and outreach are the elements that must be addressed under the NPDES regulations. 
  • Great examples of how the jurisdictions work with the school systems were provided. One example can be found at
The symposium was well received by 128 attendees and we are thankful for the support received from the ACEC/MW President, ACEC/MW Executive Director and Assistant, ACEC/MW Water Infrastructure Committee, and Sponsors. The sponsors included Atkins, Brudis and Associates, Inc., EBA Engineering, HDR, and Stantec. Overall, the symposium provided an excellent learning forum, four (4) Professional Development Hours, and a great networking opportunity for all attendees. We look forward the next TMDL Symposium! Symposium attendees can obtain copies of the attendee list and presentations HERE.

About the Authors

Mary Searing, PE, DWRE, CFM is the Director of the Water Resources & Environmental Department for BRUDIS & ASSOCIATES, INC. She has more than 27 years of experience in planning, program and project management, and design for water resources projects involving data collection, documentation, statistical analysis, modeling, monitoring, permitting, implementation, and GIS applications. 

Norelis M. Florentino, PE, MBA, PMP is a Senior Manager for Shrewsberry and Associates. Her experience includes resource and project management, hydraulic/hydrologic modeling and design for water/wastewater/stormwater projects and training over one thousand engineers in various engineering software applications.


There have been no comments made on this article. Why not be the first and add your own comment using the form below.

Leave a comment

Commenting is restricted to members only. Please login now to submit a comment.