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Water: Laws & Executive Orders

Proposed National Rulemaking To Clarify the Water Quality Standards Regulation

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Summary

The EPA has published a proposed rule clarifying six key program areas in the federal water quality standards regulation which helps implement the Clean Water Act. The proposed changes will improve the regulation’s effectiveness in restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. The core of the current regulation has been in place since 1983; since then, a number of issues have been raised by stakeholders or identified by the EPA in the implementation process that will benefit from clarification and greater specificity.

Proposed Clarifications

The following key program areas are addressed in the proposed rule: (1) the EPA Administrator's determinations that new or revised water quality standards are necessary, (2) designated uses for water bodies, (3) triennial reviews of state and tribal WQS, (4) antidegradation provisions to protect water quality, (5) variances to WQS, and (6) compliance schedule authorizing provisions.  

The EPA accepted public comments for 90 days after the publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register, and the docket is available at Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2010-0606. The public comment period for this proposed rule ended on January 2, 2014

Current Outreach

No additional outreach is currently scheduled.

Completed Outreach

  • Webinar 1 - September 24, 2013 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm
    On September 24, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held the first  public webinar for the proposed rule. The webinar allowed EPA to discuss the contents of the proposed rule and allowed interested parties the opportunity to ask clarifying questions prior to the close of the public comment period. 
  • Public Meeting - October 29, 2013 in Washington, DC from 10:00am to 3:00pm
    On October 29, EPA held a public meeting with interested parties face-to-face to discuss the contents of the "Water Quality Standards Regulatory Clarifications" Proposed Rule. After EPA's presentation on the contents of the proposed rule, interested parties had the opportunity to ask clarifying questions.
  • Webinar 2 - November 14, 2013 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm
    On November 14, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held the second public webinar for the proposed rule. The webinar allowed EPA to discuss the contents of the proposed rule and allowed interested parties the opportunity to ask clarifying questions prior to the close of the public comment period.

  • 2010 Listening Sessions

    In August 2010, as the Agency began work on the proposal, EPA held two informal public listening sessions via audio teleconference to inform the public about the rulemaking, and to receive views on clarifications to the water quality standards regulation that were under consideration. The sessions provided a review of the EPA’s current regulation and a summary of the clarifications that the EPA is considering with time allotted for questions and comments. The agenda and resource materials were identical for both sessions.

  • EPA Listening Session Records

How to Get Additional Information

As this rulemaking proceeds we will provide information updates on this webpage. If you have questions or comments, you may email WQSRegulatoryClarifications@epa.gov or call 202-566-1860.

To receive information updates by email, you may subscribe to EPA’s list server forum, “WQS-News.” To subscribe or unsubscribe, follow the instructions at https://lists.epa.gov/read/all_forums/ and specify wqs-news as the name of the forum.

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