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Water: Water Quality Standards Academy

Water Quality Standards Academy

Highlights

Want to receive email notification of upcoming academies? Contact Erin Cabral  (ecabral@horsleywitten.com or 508-833-6600). 

To support water quality standards development, we offer the Water Quality Standards Academy (WQSA), which presents classroom-based and online courses, along with occasional satellite broadcasts.


Online Courses

The Online Academy offers Water Quality Standards training through the web.

Basic Course Modules

Key concept modules are designed to prepare you for the five-day Live Academy and are designed for persons with some familiarity with water quality standards. People with more experience in this subject matter may benefit from taking the online course as refresher training. These topics are covered in further detail in the Classroom WQS Academy.

Key Concepts Modules

Supplemental Topics Modules

These supplemental modules are intended for users whose interest goes beyond the core WQSA modules. These topics are covered in further detail in the Classroom WQS Academy.

Special Interest Modules

Special interest modules are intended to provide users with basic information on topics that are not regularly covered in the Classroom WQS Academy.

Webcasts

There are no webcasts scheduled at this time.

Archived Webcasts

October 4, 2012 webcast seminar on:

"Water Quality Standards 101" by Thomas Gardner, Environmental Scientist, National Water Quality Standards Branch, U.S. EPA’s Office of Science and Technology; Heather Goss, Physical Scientist, National Water Quality Standards Branch, U.S. EPA’s Office of Science and Technology; and Janita Aguirre, Environmental Scientist, National Water Quality Standards Branch, U.S. EPA’s Office of Science and Technology.

Listen to this webcast to gain an overview of the U.S. EPA’s Water Quality Standards (WQS) program. This webcast is targeted toward a broad audience, including states, territories, tribes, environmental groups, industrial groups, municipalities, the academic community, federal agencies, watershed groups, and any other interested parties. The last portion of the webcast highlights how all of these different sectors play a role in the national WQS program.

Certificate of Completion

Additional Information

To receive information on announcements of future Water Quality Standards Academy sessions, please subscribe to the wqs-news list-server here: https://lists.epa.gov/read/all_forums/.

Classroom Academy

Three images showing water quality instances: scientists, waterway, marsh.

The Water Quality Standards Academy is best known for its Classroom Academy which is the introductory course designed for those with six months to one year experience with water quality standards and criteria programs. However, others may benefit from the course, including veterans of the water quality standards program who want a refresher course.

The 5-day course is aimed at states, territories, tribes, environmental groups, industrial groups, municipalities, the academic community, federal agencies, watershed groups, and other interested parties. The course is offered approximately two times each year.

Upcoming: December 8-12, 2014 - registration closed

Water quality standards are the cornerstone of state, territory, and tribal water quality standards management programs. The Classroom Academy is a comprehensive and highly structured course that introduces students to all aspects of the water quality standards program, including:

  • the interpretation and application of water quality standards regulation;
  • policies and program guidance;
  • the development of water quality criteria (human health, aquatic life, nutrient, and biological); and
  • other facets of the water program.

View these slides from modules presented at the December 2011 classroom academy:

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.


A Brief Orientation to Water Quality Standards

Basic Information

wetland

Wetlands

Water quality standards are the foundation of the water quality-based control program mandated by the Clean Water Act. Water Quality Standards define the goals for a water body by designating its uses, setting criteria to protect those uses, and establishing provisions to protect water quality from pollutants.

Water quality standards are important because they help to protect and restore the quality of the Nation's surface waters, consistent with the requirements of the Clean Water Act. Standards help to identify water quality problems caused by, for example, improperly treated wastewater discharges, runoff or discharges from active or abandoned mining sites, sediment, fertilizers, and chemicals from agricultural areas, and erosion of stream banks caused by improper grazing practices. Standards also support efforts to achieve and maintain protective water quality conditions.

Water Quality Standards Review and Revision

monitor

Taking a water sample

Each state and authorized tribe has its own legal and administrative procedures for adopting water quality standards. In general, standards are adopted following a process in which draft revisions are developed and formally proposed for public comment. A public hearing is then held to receive input from the public regarding the proposal. The proposed water quality standards and supporting information are made available to the public prior to the hearing. States and Tribes are required to prepare a summary of the public comments received and how each comment was addressed. Pursuant to revisions to the water quality standards regulation promulgated in April of 2000 (the "Alaska" rule), new or revised water quality standards become effective for purposes of the Clean Water Act upon EPA approval.

The Clean Water Act requires States and authorized Indian Tribes to review their standards from time to time, but at least once every three years, and revise them if appropriate. Updates may be needed, for example, due to changing water quality conditions or waterbody uses or new scientific information on the effects of pollutants in the environment. In preparing proposed revisions to their standards, States and Tribes consider requests from industry, environmental groups, and the public, and review available information (e.g., CWA §305(b) reports, EPA guidance.

Indian Tribes Participation

HW-006LR

Working near the shoreline

Tribal participation in the water quality standards program requires completion of two principal tasks. One task is for the Tribe to submit an application to the EPA Regional Administrator to administer the program. EPA reviews the Tribe's application and decides whether the Tribe meets the applicable requirements. The second task is the development of water quality standards. A number of Tribes have elected to compile several years of water quality monitoring data prior to initiating development of water quality standards. Funding, guidance, training, and technical assistance are available from EPA.

(Note: This "brief orientation" is excerpted from What Are Water Quality Standards?.)

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