Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Program


The federal Clean Water Act includes rules and programs to help states prevent and reduce water pollution. States must identify polluted waters and plan to restore their health. Part of this plan is developing Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for polluted waters.

What is a TMDL?

A TMDL is the maximum amount of pollutant a water body can handle while still meeting water quality standards.

What is included in a TMDL?

Developing a TMDL is like writing a prescription for a water body. It determines how much pollutant is there, where it’s coming from, and how to reduce it to meet water quality standards. TMDLs set targets to meet water quality standards that support different uses like drinking water, recreation, or agriculture.

When is a TMDL needed?

TMDLs are required for water bodies not meeting water quality standards. These are typically referred to as “impaired waters” or “303(d) listed waters” and are identified on the state’s Section 303(d) list in the biennial Integrated Report.

How are water bodies prioritized for TMDL development?

Water bodies are selected for TMDL development following an impaired waters prioritization strategy: North Dakota Total Maximum Daily Load Prioritization Strategy for Vision 2 of the Clean Water Act Section 303(d) Program

Who develops TMDLs in North Dakota?

The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Water Quality, Watershed Management Program is responsible for developing TMDLs for impaired water bodies in North Dakota. TMDLs must be approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

What happens after a TMDL is approved?

TMDLs are implemented through local watershed projects and through water quality permits.

Local watershed projects rely on voluntary efforts from landowners and community members to reduce pollution from nonpoint sources (runoff) identified in the TMDL. The North Dakota Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Program (NPS Program) awards grant funding for projects addressing nonpoint source pollution such as Best Management Practice (BMP) implementation or information and education projects.

Water quality permits are managed by the North Dakota Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NDPDES) program. The NDPDES program updates permit conditions to reduce pollution from point sources identified in the TMDL (for example, discharge pipes).

How is the public involved?

Successful TMDL development and implementation ultimately depends on public participation. North Dakotan’s can directly participate in local watershed projects and can provide comment on TMDLs and planning documents.

In January 2024 the NDDEQ released an Impaired Waters Public Survey requesting input on public water quality priorities to guide TMDL planning. The NDDEQ plans to redistribute this survey every two years.

Public questions or concerns can contact the NDDEQ Division of Water Quality at 701-328-5210 or

What is an Advanced Restoration Plan?

Advanced Restoration Plans (ARPs), previously termed ‘Alternative’ Restoration Plans, are developed for water bodies where sources of pollution are known and actions to address pollution are in place or planned (items a TMDL would otherwise identify and determine). An ARP does not replace a TMDL but can help achieve water quality standards, at which point a TMDL would no longer be needed.

Water Quality Division Employee Email List (click to expand)

Last Name First Name E-Mail Address Program Phone
Anderson Carl WQ Ground Water Monitoring 701-328-5213
Becker Sarah WQ Spill Investigation 701-328-9151
Brazil Emily WQ Watershed Management 701-328-5296
Delzer Alexis WQ NDPDES Permitting 701-328-5282
Espe Brady WQ NDPDES Permitting 701-328-5228
Gilley Cameron WQ NDPDES Permitting 701-328-5210
Gleich Casey WQ Ground Water Monitoring 701-328-4164
Gross Joe WQ Watershed Management 701-328-5292
Grossman Dallas WQ NDPDES Permitting 701-328-5242
Hanson Lawrence WQ NDPDES Permitting 701-328-5291
Haroldson Marty WQ NDPDES Permitting 701-328-5234
Harrison Kylee WQ NDPDES Permitting 701-328-5187
Hite Nicole WQ Spill Investigation 701-328-1676
Houle Brian WQ Watershed Management 701-328-5193
Hulst Annelise WQ Watershed Management 701-328-1377
Joynt Emily WQ Watershed Management 701-328-5239
Kaiser Don WQ Spill Investigation 701-328-5151
Kritzberger Ryan WQ Ground Water Monitoring 701-328-9035
Kruske Montana WQ NDPDES Permitting 701-328-5172
McCauley Jenna WQ Watershed Management
McGee Julia WQ Watershed Management 701-328-1380
Miller Meridith WQ Watershed Management 701-328-5166
Nelson Amber Water Quality Division 701-328-5210
Novak Emilee WQ Watershed Management 701-328-5240
Olson Jaxsyn WQ Watershed Management 701-328-1382
Rockeman Karl Water Quality Division 701-328-5225
Schick McKenzie WQ Watershed Management 701-328-5288
Schiwal Alyssa WQ Ground Water Monitoring 701-328-5159
Schuett Patrick WQ NDPDES Permitting 701-328-5235
Stockdill Scott WQ Spill Investigation 701-328-5241
Strommen Rachel WQ NDPDES Permitting 701-328-5244
Suess Bill WQ Spill Investigation 701-328-5216
Suggs Shannon WQ Ground Water Monitoring 701-328-6409
Waldron Feld Sarah WQ NDPDES Permitting 701-328-5237
Wallery Paige WQ Spill Investigation 701-328-5243
Wax Peter WQ Special Projects 701-328-5268
Wert Joshua WQ Watershed Management 701-328-5214
Wirth Cherreka WQ Watershed Management 701-328-9166
Woutat Tanner WQ Ground Water Monitoring 701-328-5233