In 1999, the Korean Ministry of Environment adopted the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) management system to resolve the problems of traditional water quality management policies represented by concentration regulations, land-use regulations, and environmental treatment facilities. A special act established in 1999 recommends the autonomous implementation of the program in the Han River watershed. Also, a series of special acts established in 2002 require the compulsory implementation for three other major river watersheds. Accordingly, as of 2007, four major river watersheds are implementing the first phase of the TMDLs as well as preparing for a second phase set to begin in 2011. Although the introduction of the TMDL program can be evaluated as a paradigm shift in water quality management, the current system addresses issues that originated specifically in Korea’s political and economic context.