Presentation on theme: "EPA’s Guidance on Nutrient Criteria Development"— Presentation transcript:
1 EPA’s Guidance on Nutrient Criteria Development Tina Laidlaw, EPA Region 8 Nutrient CoordinatorTonya Fish, EPA WQS Coordinator
2 Presentation EPA’s guidance on criteria development Expectations for rulemaking packagesEPA guidance on nutrient criteria development
3 Criteria DevelopmentEPA develops water quality criteria under the authority of the Clean Water Act §304(a).EPA develops criteria based on:the best available scienceextensive scientific literature reviewestablished procedures for risk assessment and managementEPA policyexternal scientific peer reviewpublic input on potentially useful scientific information.EPA's recommended criteria are not rules, nor do they automatically become part of the State or Tribe's water quality standards.
4 Criteria DevelopmentGenerally, States adopt a combination of numeric and narrative criteriaState adopted criteria must meet the following requirements (40 CFR (a)) :Protect the designated uses, using the criterion most protective of the most sensitive useBe based on a sound scientific rationaleInclude sufficient parameters (e.g., acceptable concentrations) to protect the designated useCWA § 303(c) requires EPA to review and approve/disapprove State WQSSufficient parameters to protect the designated use, esp. the most sensitive useNutrients are not a section 307 priority toxic
5 Numeric CriteriaEstablish clear and consistent targets for listing, TMDLs, and permitsExpedite listing, TMDLs, and permitsCan be based on site-specific, regional or statewide analysesCan be implemented in concert with discharger-specific variances
6 Narrative CriteriaFor narratives to be protective - important to have implementation methodsImplementation methods will explain how the state will interpret the narrative criteria -- how a quantifiable measure be identifiedWithout detailed implementation methods…a narrative approach may not be effective in protecting designated usesinterpretation of narratives essentially transfers/delays the WQS decision to the listing, TMDL and permit processesUnder FL Impaired Waters Rule (IWR) decision, methods that affect level of protection may still be considered WQS even if in a separate document (e.g., a listing method)Narrative criteria with no methodology is problemmaticEPA has also presented the idea of a numeric translator for nutrients. This is what the expectation would be.Currently, DEQ has narrative criteria but no implementation methods.
7 Narrative vs. Numeric Criteria EPA encourages states to adopt numeric nutrient criteria because:Narrative criteria still require site-specific application for TMDL and permit purposesNarrative criteria can be difficult and resource intensive to interpretApplication of narrative criteria may decrease consistency and transparencyNarrative criteria may be less protective of designated usesNumeric criteria are more efficient to adopt and implement
8 WQS ApplicationNumeric and narrative criteria are used to establish Water Quality Based Effluent Limits (WQBELs)If the state determines that the WQBEL cannot be achieved, a discharger-specific variance can be adopted.Criteria adopted through these variances can be based on consideration of factors such as economics and technology
9 State WQS Package WQS packages submitted to EPA should include: Use designations consistent with the CWAMethods and analyses used to support the standardsWater quality criteria sufficient to protect designated usesAntidegradation policy and accompanying implementation procedureInformation to support uses not specified in CWA Section 101(a)(2)State policies affecting the application and implementation of the standards (e.g., variance policy)Certification by the AG that the standards were duly adopted according to State lawOnce the state criteria have been approved by the board of environmental review, then the state submits the following information to epa for review and comment (disapproval/approval).
10 TimelinesFor WQS approvals, 60 days from the submission date to issue a letter (40 CFR (a)(1)).For WQS disapprovals, 90 days from the submission date to issue a letter and specify changes to bring the standards into compliance with the CWA (40 CFR (a)(2)).The standards become applicable for CWA purposes after EPA approval (40 CFR (c)).States must review standards at least once every 3 years (40 CFR ).If EPA decides that the submission meets the CWA requirements
11 History of Nutrient Criteria Nutrients (Nitrogen and Phosphorus) were consistently one of the top pollutants on the CWA Section 303(D) Lists to Congress Reports beginning in the early 1990s.The “Nutrient Criteria Program” was initiated in 1995.Public recognition of the problem increased in 1998 and the program was accelerated by….State 305b and 303d reports continue to rank nutrients as one of the top 3 causes of impairment.
12 The “Cell from Hell”Stories about Pfiesteria piscicida were carried daily by the Baltimore Sun during the summer of 1997, and hundreds of other newspapers.Gulf Hypoxia was another concern along with the Chesapeake Bay issues
13 Quick EPA ActionPrincipal Goal: Develop Nutrient Criteria across the nation in 3 years.The criteria needed to address nutrient pollution, not natural enrichment.Primary Parameters:Total P, Total N, Chlorophyll a, some measure of water clarity (e.g., Secchi disk depth, turbidity, TSS), response measureTypes:Numeric criteria, or narrative with numeric translator
14 Initial ApproachEPA calculated “estimated reference conditions” using a frequency distribution of ecoregional data.These CWA § 304(a) criteria were recommended for use as starting points for states to develop their own criteria, using this, or other scientifically defensible methods.
15 Ecoregional Classification The 25th or 75th percentiles were an estimate of reference conditions – protective of all uses.This approach automatically delineates 75% of your waterbodies as impaired;Many also argued that it was not directly linked to the protection of designated uses, and was therefore potentially over-protective;Some argued that this approach would generate criteria that harm designated uses, such as recreational or commercial fishing.Used aggregated nutrient regions.
16 Distributional Approach The 25th or 75th percentiles were an estimate of reference conditions – protective of all uses.Reference Sites (assumed from case studies)Reference Sample (from National Nutrient Database)EPA 304(a) Criteria Based in Part on Reference Conditions[TP]25th percentileof distribution75th percentile
17 Shift in PolicyEPA responded to the critique of the percentile approach in 2001 with a policy of “flexibility”, encouraging states to make progress on developing nutrient criteria using different approaches.Many states moved towards a “stressor-response” approach and began field studies to identify the algal (diatom and periphyton) or macroinvertebrate response to N and P.HQs established a technical support center (N-STEPS) to assist states with the extensive technical challenges involved in these stressor-response approaches.
18 EPA Recommended Approaches Frequency Distribution Approach (Reference Approach)Stressor-Response (Effects Based)Scientific LiteratureModels
20 Stressor- ResponseI am attaching a little easier slide from that document - it shows two common response types to nutrients - a threshold (curvey) and a linear (straight) response. One derives candidate criteria in two ways from these relationships: identifying thresholds with change-point analysis or equivalent method for the threshold response and/or interpolating where the point on the straight line intersects an adverse condition on the y axis.Curved line:e.g. one might note that there appears to be a threshold response of sensitive invertebrate taxa (y-axis) to the amount of Cladophora in a stream (x-axis). One could use change point analysis to identify where that point is and to use bootstrapped confidence intervals to allow for a margine of safety.Straight line:e.g. one might look for where minimum dissolved oxygen (y-axis) drops below 5 mg/L in the straight line plot in response to TP (x-axis). One could also use prediction intervals around the straight line to allow a margin of safety.Figure 1 Plot showing two stressor-response relationships, where the response is a direct measure of designated use or can be easily linked to a designated use measure. The relationship A is non-linear and B is linear.
21 Stressor-Response Approach Stressor-response approach can help identify levels of N or P which are more “refined” in terms of protecting designated uses.A number of sophisticated statistical techniques are available through N-STEPS to help establish response relationships:regression (linear, logistic, multiple)correlation;visual plotting;conditional probability analysis;change-point analysisAquatic organismsSampled as part of assessment programsUsed for developing biocriteriaSample data synthesized into metrics and indicesMetrics and indices respond to a variety of stressors, including nutrientsVariety of assemblages to use for nutrient criteria development
22 Limitations of Stressor-Response Methods Amount and quality of data influences analysesEnvironmental data are often messyNeed to quantify uncertaintyNeed a good linkage between variable & uses. This approach may work for aquatic life uses, but not other uses.Issue of covariance: how to handle multiple stressors (e.g., conductivity, sulfate, temperature)?More guidance forthcoming from EPA on stressor-response methods. Likely in September.
23 Scientific Literature Established thresholdsKnown effects levels
25 What is a weight-of-evidence approach? Using multiple lines of analysis to define a specific endpointAlternative to single analysis approachesEspecially useful where clear endpoints may be elusive
26 Multiple Lines of Evidence Generate candidate endpointsWeight qualitatively (BPJ)Final is a result of multiple lines35 mg/L30 mg/LDistributionLiterature55 mg/L60 mg/L45 mg/LStressor-responseModels
27 National Status of Nutrient Criteria Nationally, 7 states have adopted numeric criteria for one or more parameters for at least one entire waterbody type.In January 2009, EPA issued a formal determination that “numeric” nutrient water quality criteria are necessary in Florida.EPA plans to propose numeric criteria for FL lakes and flowing waters within 12 months; estuaries within 24 months.Nationally and Regionally, EPA is focusing on nutrient problems and working to accelerate the pace to reduce nutrient impacts using a variety of approaches18 states have adopted numeric criteria for one or more parameters for selected waters in one or more waterbody types.Region 8 is developing a nutrient strategy and proactively engaging the ag community in reducing nutrient loads. HQs has established a nutrient innovations workgroup.