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Frequently Asked Questions

1)  Who is Responsible for Developing and Implementing the Selenium Management Program?

A work group established in 2009, is charged with developing the Selenium Management Program framework and implementation plan. The work group is examining how much selenium load reduction must occur to meet state water-quality standards and protect the endangered fish, and how best to accomplish those reductions. The initial phases of planning work are expected to be completed by the end of 2011. Although Reclamation is the lead agency in developing the SMP, the program’s success is dependent on all involved water users, agencies, and local governments working together to implement those selenium measures identified by the stakeholders in the SMP.

2)  Who are the stakeholders and why is it important to be involved?

If you are a user of water in the lower Gunnison River Basin, you are a stakeholder in the SMP. Local, state and federal government agencies, private citizens, and water users and water providers are currently involved in the program. However, the program’s success is dependent on all stakeholders working together to implement those selenium measures identified in the SMP so that future Endangered Species Act conflicts can be avoided. Involvement means that entities located in areas with high selenium soils and where non-agricultural or agricultural irrigation water is being applied should be assisting in the identification and discussion of solutions. Individual water users should be aware of the program and its benefits and hopefully be considering the effects when potentially overwatering soils, beginning new irrigation on previously non-irrigated lands or building ponds in areas with high selenium soils.

3)  What is the relationship between the Gunnison River Total Maximum Daily Load and the SMP?

The federal Clean Water Act requires states to submit to the Environmental Protection Agency a list of water bodies not meeting water-quality based standards (also known as the “303(d) List of Impaired Waters” or “303(d) List”). For those water bodies on the 303(d) list, the CWA requires that a Total Maximum Daily Load be developed.

The TMDL is most simply a determination of the maximum amount of a constituent that may be present instream while the standard is still attained, the current pollutant load, and an allocation of the necessary load reductions among any contributing sources. Within a TMDL, pollutant loads are assessed based on two types of sources, point source discharges and nonpoint source contributions. TMDLs may be directly implemented only through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits issued to point source dischargers. Point sources discharges are typically associated with municipal wastewater treatment plants and many industries that discharge to surface water. Non-point sources represent more diffuse contributions of pollutant loading. These sources, while identified and addressed in the TMDL allocation process, are not regulated. (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 2011).

The SMP is addressing non-point source pollution control through the ESA and complements the TMDL process which has no regulatory authority over non-point source pollutants such as selenium under the CWA.

4)  What will happen if the SMP fails?

If the program fails, selenium concentrations will not be reduced and impairment of reproduction of endangered species will likely continue. ESA compliance could be lost and individual water users, irrigation companies, and individual Reclamation projects could be required to address depletions and other endangered species impacts on their own.

5)  What benefits are there for my participating in the development and implementation of the SMP?

Success of the program will help protect individual water users into the future and help to avoid endangered species conflicts. It is important that the SMP development and implementation processes have input and buy-in from all water users because it ensures the success of the program.

6) As a stakeholder, what can I do to reduce selenium loading?

A complete set of wise water use, best management practices guides to prevent selenium loading from non-agricultural sources such as ponds, golf courses, and residential and commercial landscape irrigation have been developed by the Gunnison Basin Selenium Task Force and is available on the Gunnison Basin Selenium Task Force website.

Additional educational materials are also being developed by SMP stakeholders and will include both on- and off-farm and urban residential and commercial best management practices. These materials will be made available on this web site.

7)  Who do I contact if I want to be involved in the development of the SMP?

Contact:  jliff@usbr.gov

8)  How do I stay appraised of continuing developments/news related to the SMP?

  • Attend public information sessions held periodically by the SMP Work Group
  • Request to be added to the mailing list [ send e-mail request to: Justyn Hock ]
  • Discuss the SMP with your neighbors and other water users in your area and select a representative(s) to attend    SMP Work Group meetings.
  • Contact your local conservation district involved with the SMP development on behalf of stakeholders in your area.



Last updated: May 11, 2016