TMDL or Trivia Time at the Debate

The following is my recollection of the question and response at the October 28 Plumb-Reed debate. I do not have a transcript or a recording of the debate.

Near the end of Friday’s John Plumb-Tom Reed debate, the candidates had the opportunity to ask a question to the other candidate. Reed went first.

Reed  made the point that Plumb has been campaigning for a year and a half, brought up the environment, and added that many, including farmers, were concern about “TMDL”, and ask Plumb how he felt about TMDL. (He always used the acronym, never the actual words).

Plumb responded that this was a classic example of a “Gotcha” question. He refused to pretend he had an answer to a question about an acronym that he doesn’t recognize.

Reed, in his 30 seconds to respond to Plumb’s answer, showed no acting skills when he feign his bewilderment that Plumb didn’t respond to his trivia question.


TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) is a term used by the Environment Protection Agency to quantify the amount of  polluted materials allowed in a waterway. The EPA regulates the TMDL. When they lower the accepted amounts of pollutants, local Wastewater Treatment Plants need to make adjustments. The municipalities would then need to increase efficiency, which probably would increase costs.

According to his website, Rep. Reed has had only three Press Releases which includes TMDL; one in 2011 one in 2013, and most current one in 2014.

Reed’s ploy was clear–the goal was to embarrass his opponent. If he really wanted to know what Plumb thought of the Clean Water Act, or the EPA regulations, he would have asked that—he would have used the correct term. But he didn’t.

Plumb did not fall for it.

We are looking for a representative who takes his position seriously, someone who can be admired–a good role model, and Rep. Reed blew it.

BTW—Plumb asked Reed why he voted to defund Homeland Security.

About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
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12 Responses to TMDL or Trivia Time at the Debate

  1. Bob McGill says:

    Aw come you have a problem following even the simplest conversation ! Can’t you come up with something better than that to bitch about ?


  2. pystew says:

    I followed the conversation, Bob. I felt it was necessary to point out that I didn’t have the exact words in front of me.

    What exactly was Reed’s question?

    Yes. There is a lot to bitch about, but this one is so obvious. Reed had not dealt with TMDL in over two year. I wonder why it was an important topic for him to pick now to talk about.

    These are serious times and I don’t think a majority of the people in the NY23rd want an honest debate, not a trivia contest.


  3. Anne says:

    What happened here is that you had a half-wit/nitwit (Reed) having to face an actual rocket scientist (Plumb) with predictable results: Reed, unable to outthink his opponent, or even, let’s be honest, be in the same zip code as Plumb’s intellectual abilities, had to resort to some sort of trick to try to level the gulf of ability that lies between them. But one has to be pretty damned clever to pull off the bit of cogitative legerdemain that Reed attempted and in that, as in most things he does, he failed, embarrassingly. Perhaps Reed’s new sobriquet ought to be “TMDPL,” or The Maximum Daily Pantload, which I would posit he has reached each time his office issues a press release.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. whungerford says:

    The three press releases are interesting. Reed would fund clean up in his district, but not in Chesapeake Bay. One consistent view: he doesn’t like EPA much whatever it does.


  5. John Humphries says:

    My respect for Plumb grew because of his response to Reed’s obvious “gotcha” question by standing up and saying “you got me, Tom”. It takes guts to say, “I don’t know”, sometimes. John’s response shows the mark of the man. Reed’s childish, taunting reply also said a great deal about his character.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Deb Meeker says:

    Earth to Reed – Donald Trump’s bullying tactics make you appear as ill equipped to look intelligent, sound intelligent and make points with intelligent people, as they do with Trump.
    John Plumb proved his best attribution yet – that of calm and honest response in the face of stupidity. Plumb could have asked Reed about hundreds of acronyms that would have left Reed looking like he’s been hit with a baseball bat, but instead Plumb just ticked on – like a grandfather clock in a thunderstorm.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kevin Millar says:

    It was a bit of a gotcha, but I think Plumb should have known what TMDL stands for. The attempt to clean up the Chesapeake Bay( and reduce TMDLs) has cost NY a lot of money. Look up SRBC for the next debate.


  8. Sue Skidmore says:

    Reed would funds a local cleanup but not in the Chesapeake. WE ARE Located IN THE CHESAPEAKE BAY REGION. Our local municipalities have been fighting the increase costs to upstate to conform to pollution levels that only exist in the lower starts. This atrocity makes it difficult for our local farmers both in agri and dairy business. You can’t grow herds and must use lower chemicals in order to comply with those standards. Most of the Chesapeake region is outside of his jurisdiction so why should he care? Because it effects our farms and municipalities are suffering and fighting on their own. RETIRE REED!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. petwatchny says:

    I watched the entire debate on Channel 9. Frankly, the TMDL question came completely from left field. As the original poster states, Reed is not very vocal on the topic.

    In fact, the only water body mentioned by Reed with a TMDL in the district is Chautauqua Lake ( , and Tom Reed got lots of publicity for submitting legislation to fund upgrades to municipal systems to meet TMDLs. That is the subject of the 2013 press release:

    In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accepted the Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) submitted by NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for phosphorus in Chautauqua Lake. The lake’s TMDL requires costly improvements to local water systems, leading Reed to draft the Impaired Waters Improvement Act to provide grants to communities affected by TMDL to address upgrades to municipal water systems. The bill will help all communities around Chautauqua Lake address the long-term costs associated with the TMDL and meet water quality needs.
    Funding for the grants will be raised through revenue gained from penalties imposed under the Clean Water Act, with the aim of helping communities meet water quality requirements without introducing any new spending.
    “Our communities will benefit from relief and assistance from the federal government on cleanup efforts,” Reed continued. “I applaud the community for rallying around the initiative to clean up Chautauqua Lake and will continue to work in Washington to find solutions for the county to improve water quality and boost economic activity.”
    Lake cleanup efforts have been a priority of Reed’s in Chautauqua County. Since 1970 the communities around Chautauqua Lake have examined the possibilities of unifying the lake’s surrounding infrastructure

    In fact, Tom cared so much about the issue, he never bothered to reintroduce the “Impaired Waters Improvement Act” in the new congress of 2015. Or to obtain other funding for Chautauqua Lake, which seems to be making great progress on its own initiative. I can find no evidence that any support came through Reed.

    It will be interesting to find out what created Mr Reed’s new concerns about complying with a TMDL?


  10. Maureen Harding says:

    That’s alright. Tom Reed didn’t know the three indicators for the presence of a wetland when I worked with him back in 2007.


  11. pystew says:

    Thanks for the information and the links you provided.


  12. whungerford says:

    I don’t think Tom is concerned about meeting TMDLs. More likely his concern is that there is a cost impact on farms.


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