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Water: Water Quality Standards Academy

Basic Course: Supplemental Topics (NPDES Permit 11)

NPDES Permit Program

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Establishing WQBELs: Step 1—Identify Applicable Water Quality Standards

To get the WQBELs assessment process under way, the State/Tribal permit writer should identify the relevant water quality standards and understand their applicability to the specific receiving water of the discharge being assessed. In particular, the permit writer should understand the forms of expression for the relevant water quality criteria (i.e., numeric and/or narrative water quality criteria).


Key Point. The permit writer may need to consult with the State/Tribe’s specialists on water quality standards to fully understand the jurisdiction’s intended application of the water quality criteria. (Note that a module in the Key Concepts section of this online training provides an introduction to criteria development.)

The permit writer should also be prepared to follow any implementation policies or guidance that the State/Tribe has included in its water quality standards; for instance, to address such considerations as dilution and mixing zones.

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

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