Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) in the United States

An Inquiry into the Role of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)


  • John Hoornbeek Kent State University
  • Evan Hansen Downstream Strategies


water pollution, water policy, Clean Water Act (CWA), Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), holistic water management, stakeholder engagement, collaborative watershed management


Integrated water resource management (IWRM) has become a focal point of discussion
about water management. While there are differences in viewpoint regarding IWRM’s use and
effectiveness, two key elements that are discussed in relation to the concept of IWRM are
1) developing more holistic perspectives, and 2) engaging stakeholders in water management
processes. We investigate the relationship between these two key elements of IWRM and water
management practices associated with Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLS) in the United
States (US). Drawing data from all 63 TMDL reports approved by the US Environmental
Protection Agency (USEPA) between 1998 and 2006 for the states of Ohio and West Virginia, we assess
whether these key elements of IWRM are incorporated into TMDL practices. We also conduct
preliminary tests to assess the relationship between these key elements of IWRM and watershed
restoration progress as perceived by state environmental officials.
The data we collect suggest that Ohio and West Virginia are creating holistic information on
watershed management as they develop TMDL reports and that they are engaging stakeholders
in TMDL processes in a number of cases. We also find positive associations between the
incorporation of key elements of IWRM and perceived progress in watershed restoration. The data we
present also suggest that steps are being taken to implement TMDLs in Ohio and West Virginia,
but they indicate that the progress being achieved is modest compared to the ambitious goals
of the American Clean Water Act. Our data and analyses are limited in several key respects.
However, they do suggest that broad-based watershed planning and stakeholder engagement—
practices consistent with IWRM—may contribute positively to TMDL implementation and
watershed restoration progress. They also suggest that TMDL processes could play a positive
role in supporting more aggressive IWRM efforts in the future.


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How to Cite

Hoornbeek, J. ., & Hansen, E. . (2013). Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) in the United States: An Inquiry into the Role of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). International Journal of Water Governance, 1(3-4), 339–360. Retrieved from

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