Date of Graduation

Spring 5-13-2014

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)


Environmental Management

First Advisor

Kathleen Jennings


Elevated concentrations of certain chemicals in surface water are known to be toxic to aquatic organisms (e.g., barnacles, algae, and fish). For a number of these chemicals (e.g., tributyltin [TBT], copper) federal and state water quality standards exist to protect aquatic organisms. As a means to comply with water quality standards, regulatory agencies establish Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) to reduce concentrations of toxic chemicals from entering waterways. A TMDL determines the maximum amount of pollutant loading a water body can sustain and still achieve water quality standards; they are developed to ensure that surface water concentrations meet applicable criteria. However, there can be uncertainty regarding TMDLs because of the lack of available data and input assumptions used in their development. TMDLs should also be established based on site-specific information, which is not always available or considered when developing TMDLs. Additionally, some studies have indicated that TMDLs, while they do reduce concentrations of toxic chemicals in surface water, are not as effective as anticipated or not feasible as a means to meet water quality criteria.

Because the development and implementation of TMDLs vary depending on the pollutant, water body type, and location, this research specifically evaluates the development and effectiveness of a TMDL for copper to achieve marine water quality criteria in California. Additionally, the findings of this research will be used to develop regional water quality policy recommendations.