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Water: Module 2

Basic Course: Key Concepts (Module 2.d)

Designated Uses: The Basis for State/Tribal Water Quality Goals

Module 2. Designated Uses

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"Designated uses" (defined in 40 CFR 131.3(e)) are uses specified by a State or Tribe in its water quality standards regulations for each water body or segment, regardless of whether the uses are currently being attained. These uses describe the State/Tribe's management objectives and expectations for its waters and allow the State/Tribe to work with its stakeholders to identify the collective goal.

Question. Why should designated uses describe something other than the current conditions of a water body?

Because designated uses are the goals for a water body. Environmental controls are used to work toward any goals not currently attained.

EPA's regulations are structured to ensure that States and Tribes designate appropriate uses reflecting both the current conditions, past conditions, and the potential of a water body to attain a use even if it is not being attained currently. These are goals to strive for. Without goals, there will be no movement toward the CWA goal to restore and maintain the Nation's waters.

Key Point. Consistent with the objective of the CWA to maintain and restore the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of our nation's waters is the intention to reflect the highest attainable use, whether or not it is currently being attained.

For informational purposes only–Not official statements of EPA policy.

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