The Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 303(d) Program provides a mechanism for integration of implementation efforts to restore and protect the nation’s aquatic resources. Through this process the nation’s waters are assessed, restoration and protection objectives are systematically prioritized, and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) and alternative approaches are adaptively implemented to achieve water quality goals with collaboration of State and Federal agencies, tribes, the regulated community, and the public.
In 2013, a new 'Long-Term Vision for Assessment, Restoration, and Protection under the Clean Water Act Section 303(d) Program' was described whereby states may identify and prioritize watersheds for these restoration and protection efforts under the CWA 303(d) Program. LDEQ respectfully refers to this approach as the "New Vision". The primary goals of this new vision of the CWA 303(d) Program include prioritization, assessment, protection, alternatives, engagement, and integration. The first round of the New Vision covered 2016 - 2022. This New Vision guides the realization of our clean water goals in a manner that recognizes lessons learned from the past two decades of CWA 303(d) Program implementation and allows states to address new challenges with innovative solutions.
The second round of the New Vision covers 2023 - 2032, including a "bridge" period in 2023 - 2024 to allow states to complete any remaining priorities for round one and/or set any additional priorities between New Vision round one and round two.
As part of the prioritization goal of the new vision of the CWA 303(d) Program, each state developed a prioritization framework. In 2015, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) prepared the document ‘Prioritization Framework: A State Plan for Prioritizing Watersheds for Restoration and Protection in Louisiana’ through collaboration with various stakeholders including state, federal and watershed-based entities. Following the prioritization framework stakeholder engagement phase and finalization of the prioritization framework, LDEQ prioritized the watersheds for restoration and protection under the New Vision approach to the CWA 303(d) Program. LDEQ identified the priority watersheds for restoration and protection in Louisiana through the 2016 Integrated Report (IR); stakeholders were able to review and provide comments on the prioritized watersheds as a part of the 2016 IR public review process.
In 2022, LDEQ updated the prioritiztion framework for round two of the New Vision. Both the framework and the potential priority waterbodies will be available for public review and comment during the 2024 IR public review process. LDEQ is committed to continued stakeholder engagement for the new vision of the CWA 303(d) Program. The LDEQ staff can be reached at the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org.