Development of bacteria and benthic total maximum daily loads: a case study, Linville Creek, Virginia

J Environ Qual. 2005 Sep 8;34(5):1860-72. doi: 10.2134/jeq2004.0414. Print 2005 Sep-Oct.


Two total maximum daily load (TMDL) studies were performed for Linville Creek in Rockingham County, Virginia, to address bacterial and benthic impairments. The TMDL program is an integrated watershed management approach required by the Clean Water Act. This paper describes the procedures used by the Center for TMDL and Watershed Studies at Virginia Tech to develop the Linville Creek TMDLs and discusses the key lessons learned from and the ramifications of the procedures used in these and other similar TMDL studies. The bacterial impairment TMDL was developed using the Hydrological Simulation Program-Fortran (HSPF). Fecal coliform loads were estimated through an intensive source characterization process. The benthic impairment TMDL was developed using the Generalized Watershed Loading Function (GWLF) model and the reference watershed approach. The bacterial TMDL allocation scenario requires a 100% reduction in cattle manure direct-deposits to the stream, a 96% reduction in nonpoint-source loadings to the land surface, and a 95% reduction in wildlife direct-deposits to the stream. Sediment was identified as the primary benthic stressor. The TMDL allocation scenario for the benthic impairment requires an overall reduction of 12.3% of the existing sediment loads. Despite the many drawbacks associated with using watershed-scale models like HSPF and GWLF to develop TMDLs, the detailed watershed and pollutant-source characterization required to use these and similar models creates information that stakeholders need to select appropriate corrective measures to address the cause of the water quality impairment when implementing the TMDL.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Enterobacteriaceae / physiology*
  • Environmental Monitoring / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Environmental Monitoring / statistics & numerical data
  • Geologic Sediments / analysis*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Reference Values
  • Rivers / chemistry*
  • Rivers / microbiology*
  • Virginia