Water: Water Quality Standards
Water Quality Standards Regulations and Federally Promulgated Standards
On these pages, EPA has compiled links to regulations governing water quality standards, and to federally promulgated replacement water quality standards for some waters.
- Federal Water Quality Standard Regulations
- Federally Proposed or Promulgated Standards
- Federal Clean Water Act Determinations that New or Revised Standards Are Necessary
- Paperwork Reduction Act Information Collection Requests (ICRs)
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Federal Water Quality Standard Regulations
The Water Quality Standards Regulation (40 CFR 131) establishes the requirements for states and tribes to review, revise, and adopt water quality standards. It also establishes the procedures for EPA to review, approve, disapprove, and promulgate water quality standards pursuant to section 303 (c) of the Clean Water Act.
- Water Quality Standards: CFR Title 40 Part 131
- Review and Approval of State and Tribal Water Quality Standards - "Alaska Rule" (April 2000)
- Proposed changes under consideration to Water Quality Standards Regulation
The Water Quality Guidance for the Great Lakes System, issued in 1995, establishes required minimum standards, antidegradation policies, and implementation procedures for waters of the Great Lakes system. This includes special requirements for bioaccumulative chemicals of concern. The eight Great Lakes states were required to adopt water quality standards as protective as these requirements within two years (by 1997).
For State and Tribal Standards, please go to our Repository of State, Tribal, and Territorial Water Quality Standards.
Federally Proposed or Promulgated Standards
Federal Standards Applicable to Specific States or Territories
In instances when state-specific water quality standards have not been developed or approved by EPA, the Agency will propose and/or promulgate standards for a state until such time as the state submits and EPA approves their own standards.
To view a particular state’s federally-promulgated replacement water quality standards, click on the map or use the drop down menu below. To view state, tribal and territorial standards that EPA has approved or are otherwise in effect for Clean Water Act purposes, visit the Water Quality Standards Repository.
Browse Federal Water Quality Standards
Choose a state from the map or list below.
Federal Standards Applicable to Multiple States
National Toxics Rule (NTR) Promulgation and Withdrawals
This rule promulgated for 14 States the chemical-specific, numeric criteria for priority toxic pollutants necessary to bring all States into compliance with the requirements of section 303(c)(2)(B) of the Clean Water Act (CWA). States determined by EPA in 1992 to fully comply with section 303(c)(2)(B) requirements are not affected by this rule.
Individual actions to establish and amend the standards, listed in chronological order, newest first.
- Withdrawal of Certain Federal Water Quality Criteria Applicable to California, New Jersey and Puerto Rico
- Proposed Withdrawal of Certain Federal Water Quality Criteria Applicable to California, New Jersey and Puerto Rico
- Withdrawal of Certain Federal Water Quality Criteria Applicable to Alaska, Arkansas, and Puerto Rico (October 29, 2004)
- Withdrawal of Certain Federal Human Health and Aquatic Life Water Quality Criteria Applicable to Vermont, the District of Columbia, Kansas and New Jersey
- Withdrawal of Certain Federal Human Health and Aquatic Life Water Quality Criteria Applicable to Rhode Island, Vermont, the District of Columbia, Kansas and Idaho (April 12, 2000)
- Establishment of Numeric Criteria for Priority Toxic Pollutants; States' Compliance—Revision of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) Criteria (November 1999)
- National Toxics Rule (Preamble) | National Toxics Rule (December 22, 1992)
Federal Promulgations Under the Great Lakes Initiative
The Water Quality Guidance for the Great Lakes System, issued in 1995, establishes required minimum standards, antidegradation policies, and implementation procedures for waters of the Great Lakes system. This includes special requirements for bioaccumulative chemicals of concern.
The eight Great Lakes states were required to adopt water quality standards as protective as these requirements within two years (by 1997). In a few cases EPA found deficiencies in state provisions and promulgated federal replacements to be in effect until the state makes acceptable revisions. The federal replacement provisions currently in effect are available at Application of part 132 requirements in Great Lakes States and Tribes. The final rules establishing these provisions are shown below.
- Final Withdrawal of Certain Federal Aquatic Life Water Quality Criteria Applicable to Wisconsin (PDF) (8 pp, 176K) (September 16, 2011)
- Identification of Approved and Disapproved Elements of the Great Lakes Guidance Submissions from Wisconsin and Final Rule (PDF) (10 pp, 153K) (November 6, 2000)
- Identification of Approved and Disapproved Elements of the Great Lakes Guidance Submissions from New York and Final Rule (PDF) (7 pp, 141K) (October 6, 2000)
- Identification of Approved and Disapproved Elements of the Great Lakes Guidance Submissions from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois and Final Rule (PDF) (11 pp, 282K) (August 4, 2000)
Federal Promulgations under the BEACH Act
Enacted in 2000 to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to improve the quality of coastal recreation waters, and covers the coastal and Great Lakes states.
- Final Water Quality Standards Bacteria Rule for Coastal and Great Lakes Recreation Waters (November 8, 2004)
Standards Applicable in Indian County
Consistent with the statutory requirement of section 518 of the Clean Water Act, the Water Quality Standards Regulation establishes procedures by which an Indian Tribe may qualify for the water quality standards. If EPA determines that a Tribe possesses authority to regulate water quality on a reservation but the Tribe declines to seek authority to administer the water quality standards program, EPA has the authority under section 303 of the Act to promulgate Federal water quality standards.
- Development of Water Quality Standards for Indian County
- Federal standards for Indian country (not issued) (PDF) (40 pp, 528K) - unofficial pre-publication copy of the January 19, 2001, proposed rule to promulgate "core" Federal standards in Indian country. EPA is providing this unofficial pre-publication copy for public reference. This document was never published in the Federal Register, and is not an official version upon which EPA ever sought public comment.
- Federal Water Quality Standards for the Colville Confederated Tribes Indian Reservation (PDF) (6 pp, 634K) (July 6, 1989)
Federal Clean Water Act Determinations that New or Revised Standards Are Necessary
EPA has issued the following determinations under Clean Water Act section 303(c)(4)(B) that new or revised standards are necessary. EPA may propose federal replacement standards in these cases if the state does not adopt standards consistent with the Act.
- Determination that New Water Quality Standards are Necessary to Protect Segments of the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) for Recreation
- Determinations that New Water Quality Standards are Necessary to Protect the Mississippi River for Recreation
- Determination that New or Revised Nutrient Water Quality Standards are Necessary for Florida (January 2009)
- Fact Sheet (January 16, 2009)
- Decision Letter (PDF) (10 pp, 198K) (signed Januay 14, 2009)
- Florida Department of Environmental Protection Numeric Nutrient Criteria Development Plan
Paperwork Reduction Act Information Collection Requests (ICRs)
Pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act, EPA has been approved by the federal Office of Management and Budget under OMB Control No. 2040-0049 to collect certain information from states and tribes, including state and tribal submissions of new and revised standards. Here is a link to EPA's most recent request to renew this approval. The previous approval remains in effect until this renewal is approved.
- Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Water Quality Standards (Renewal)
Federal Register Notice | Print Version (PDF) (4 pp, 197K) (June 30, 2011)