In 1975, the Northeast Ohio Lake Erie Basin (NEOLEB) organization was designated by the Governor of Ohio under provisions of the federal Clean Water Act to perform the areawide water quality management planning required under Section 208 of that Act. In 1990, the NOACA Board assumed the NEOLEB Board’s areawide planning responsibilities for the five-county area. NOACA is organized under the Ohio Revised Code pursuant to the joint powers of County Government at ORC 307.14 et seq.
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Section 208 of the federal Clean Water Act sets forth requirements for water quality management plans (WQMPs) developed by areawide planning agencies (Areawides). In Ohio, the responsibilities for water quality management planning in urbanized areas are shared by Areawides and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA). Authority for NOACA to perform the WQMP function is provided in state law at ORC 6111.02(A), 41-42.
NOACA’s WQMP addresses both municipal waste treatment (sewage) issues and nonpoint source (NPS) pollution management and controls. The plan identifies entities (designated management agencies or DMAs) with municipal wastewater treatment or NPS pollution management responsibilities. These entities implement specific water quality management duties and recommendations detailed within the WQMP.
Areawide WQMPs are one of several tools provided in the federal Clean Water Act utilized by States to address water pollution and restore water quality in lakes, rivers and streams. Other tools include water quality standards setting, water quality assessments, the issuance of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NDPES) permits to control discharges, assistance in financing wastewater management facilities, enforcement, and water quality monitoring activities. In water quality assessment, the State is charged with the responsibility for evaluating and establishing the capacity of a water body to receive pollutant loads without harm to the water body’s intended use. This is done through the Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) program which is utilized to set water quality-based effluent limits for NPDES discharge permits into a waterbody.