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Water: Kansas

Water Quality Standards for Kansas

Fact Sheet (EPA-823-F-03-008)

July 2003


U.S. EPA is promulgating a primary contact recreation use designation for 1,062 waters, an aquatic life use designation for one of these primary contact recreation use waters, and a secondary contact recreation use designation for 225 waters in the State of Kansas to replace the use designations for those waters adopted by Kansas but disapproved by EPA in 1998. EPA is promulgating final water quality standards for the State of Kansas at this time pursuant to a court order to take such action by June 30, 2003.


EPA's water quality standards regulations require states to designate uses for all water bodies within their jurisdiction.

  • Designated uses determine what water quality criteria apply to specific water bodies. EPA's regulations interpret the Clean Water Act's goal of "...water quality which provides for the protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and recreation in and on the water ..." by requiring that water quality standards provide for "fishable/swimmable" uses unless they have been shown to be unattainable through a use attainability analysis (UAA).
  • When the Agency disapproves a state or tribal water quality standard, and the state or tribe does not make appropriate changes, EPA's Administrator must propose and promulgate revised standards.

In February 1998, EPA disapproved portions of Kansas' water quality standards submission. Kansas corrected, and EPA approved, some of the disapproved water quality standards provisions in 1999.

The Kansas Natural Resource Council and Sierra Club sued EPA in August 1999, claiming that EPA failed to promptly propose replacement water quality standards in Kansas for the remaining disapproved issues. EPA entered into a consent decree with the plaintiffs and published a proposed rule on July 3, 2000, addressing the six remaining issues that had not been resolved. Since then, Kansas has resolved all the remaining issues except EPA's outstanding disapproval of 1,456 waters without UAAs demonstrating that primary contact recreation is not attainable.

On December 13, 2000, the plaintiffs again sued EPA requesting that the court order EPA to publish a final rule promulgating water quality standards for Kansas that would address this final issue.

About this Action

On March 31, 2003, the court ordered EPA to promulgate a final rule for Kansas within 90 days (June 30, 2003) addressing EPA's outstanding disapproval of the 1,456 waters without recreation uses. In its decision, the court held that EPA must use the "rebuttable presumption" approach contained in the regulations (i.e., in the absence of data, EPA presumes that water bodies are able to attain "fishable/swimmable" uses). EPA's Federal designation of a primary contact recreation use for 1,062 waters, an aquatic life use for one of these primary contact recreation waters, and a secondary contact recreation use for 225 waters, will ensure that the water quality will be appropriately protected for recreation and aquatic life unless an analysis is done and provided to EPA that shows the water cannot achieve the water quality necessary to protect the designated use.

In its decision, the court recognized that the order "may result in bodies of water being given a primary contact recreation designation when a use attainability analysis might rebut such a designation." Under state statute, Kansas is required to conduct use attainability analyses for all state waters by October 2005. Kansas has completed 523 UAAs for waters that were subject to EPA's July 2000 proposal. EPA evaluated these UAAs when determining which waters should be included in the final regulation.

Kansas is continuing to perform UAAs for recreation uses to comply with the state's statute. Once the State of Kansas has completed the necessary UAAs and any corresponding changes to its water quality standards, EPA will initiate a rulemaking to withdraw the Federally promulgated designated uses applicable to those waters.

This rule imposes no direct cost on any entity. Some facilities discharging to waters for which EPA has promulgated a use may need to alter their pollution control measures to ensure their discharge will maintain the designated use. Kansas, however, has considerable discretion in how it implements its standards when it develops effluent limits for any affected facility. EPA does not anticipate significant impacts to dischargers or the agricultural industry.

Additional Information

For information concerning today's final rule, contact Mr. Martin Kessler, Public Affairs Specialist at r7actionline@epa.gov or at U.S. EPA Region VII, Office of External Programs, 901 North 5th Street, Kansas City, Kansas, 66101 (Telephone: 913-551-7003).

The public record for this rulemaking has been established and is located at EPA Region 7, Information Resource Center, 901 North 5th Street, Kansas City, Kansas 66101, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. For further information regarding access to the docket materials, call (913) 551-7241. You may have to pay a reasonable fee for copying.

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