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Overview of WQ Standards Rule & WQ Assessment 303(d) LIst 1 Susan Braley Water Quality Program 360-407-6440.

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Presentation on theme: "Overview of WQ Standards Rule & WQ Assessment 303(d) LIst 1 Susan Braley Water Quality Program 360-407-6440."— Presentation transcript:

1 Overview of WQ Standards Rule & WQ Assessment 303(d) LIst 1 Susan Braley Water Quality Program 360-407-6440

2 What is the WQ Standards rule- making about? Ecology is proposing: NEW Human Health Criteria (HHC) for toxic chemicals in Washington’s Surface Water Quality Standards. Revision to language for three regulatory tools used to implement the standards. – Variances – Compliance schedules – Intake credits (new section) 2

3 What are Water Quality Standards? WQS are the foundation of state/tribal water quality-based pollution control programs under the Clean Water Act. WQS are to protect public health or welfare, enhance the quality of the water and serve the purposes of the Clean Water Act. See 40 CFR 131.2 3

4 Why are we updating the WQS? 4 *1992 Federal rule : The National Toxics Rule (NTR) (40CFR131.36). Since 1992, Washington has had human health criteria applied through a federal rule issued by EPA.* The federal rule was not based on Washington state or PNW regional data. For several years there has been discussion about the current water quality standards not providing enough health protection for people who eat fish and shellfish in Washington. The Clean Water Act requires that states adopt updated criteria when new information is available, including for toxics.

5 What have we heard from the public? Desire from many groups/people that the state adopt its own standards to protect for consumption of local fish and shellfish, using local information. We also heard concerns from the regulated community that new water quality standards might be very difficult to meet in the short term. 5

6 Key Changes Proposed to the Equation Variables that Determine Criteria Limits Fish consumption rate proposed to be 175 g/day (up from the 6.5 g/day national average). Based on regional tribal data Cancer risk level proposed to moved from one in a million to one in one hundred thousand additional cancer risk. No criteria will become less restrictive than what is currently applied except arsenic. 6

7 Would the proposed criteria provide less protection than the current criteria? No. 30% equally protective 70% more protective 7 Exception: The proposed HHC for arsenic are a higher concentration than the federal rule.* We are proposing to use a criteria developed by EPA to protect drinking water supplies. Several other states have adopted similar criteria for arsenic that have been approved by EPA as HHC. This change acknowledges naturally-occurring high concentrations of arsenic. Includes specific pollutant reduction requirements for dischargers. * These criteria will drive more pollutant reduction efforts than the current NTR values.

8 Why are we revising implementation tools? It might take a long time to achieve standards for some pollutants. – Ecology needs a pathway for dischargers to come into compliance with their permit limits while they are reducing pollution. – There are challenges with limited technology to measure these pollutants in surface waters and to remove them from discharges. – Non-permitted sources are a significant part of the problem in achieving standards and should be included in solutions where possible. 8

9 Proposed Implementation Tool #1: Compliance Schedules Definition: A compliance schedule is a regulatory tool used in a permit, order, or directive to achieve compliance with applicable effluent standards and limitations, water quality standards, or other legally applicable requirements Existing tool, modified language 9 Current and continuing requirements in the WQS: Apply only to existing discharges. Require final limits based on WQ to meet the standards. Requires the shortest timeframe on a case-specific basis. New Proposed Language: Allows compliance schedules to extend beyond the maximum of 10 years in the current WQS.

10 Proposed Implementation Tool #2: Variances Definition: A variance is a temporary waiver of existing water quality standards. Existing tool, modified language 10 Current Requirements in the WQS: Variances can be granted for up to 5 years, and may be renewed. Requires a WQS rule-making and USEPA CWA review and approval (including ESA consultation if applicable). New Proposed Language: The timeframe of a variance will not be limited at 5 years—instead it will be geared to the specific situation for each variance.

11 Proposed Implementation Tool #3: Intake Credits New proposed intake credit language: Applies to water quality-based effluent limits; Accounts for pollutants already present in intake water; “No net addition” of the pollutant: Used only when discharger does not add mass or increase the concentration of the pollutant; and Proposed language similar to language adopted and approved for the Great Lakes and in Oregon. New tool, new language 11 An intake credit is a procedure for establishing effluent limits in waste discharge permits issued pursuant to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) that takes into account the amount of a pollutant that is present in public waters, at the time water is removed from the body of water by the discharger or other facility supplying the discharger with intake water.

12 Next Steps Public hearings March 3 (Spokane), March 4 (Yakima), and March 12 (Lacey), 2015. Public comment period ends March 23, 2015. Ecology considers comments and finalizes rule. Ecology prepares a responsiveness summary for all of the public comments that are submitted. Last date to adopt under this rule proposal is August 3, 2015. 12 Rule-making materials available at:

13 What is the Water Quality Assessment for Washington? It’s a comprehensive assessment of the quality of Washington’s waters It gives the ability to better track when waters are getting cleaner or dirtier. It allows us to set priorities for protecting and improving water quality used for swimming, fishing, fish habitat, and drinking water. It meets requirements in the Clean Water Act by providing an “Integrated Report” on Water Quality to EPA.

14 WQ Assessment Categories Category 1: Meets Tested Standards Not impaired, or not known to be impaired No TMDL required Category 2: Waters of Concern Category 3: Insufficient Data Category 4: A--Has a TMDL B--Pollution Control Plan C--Nonpollutant Impaired TMDL/Cleanup plan in place Category 5: The 303(d) List Impaired TMDL/Clean up Plan required Water quality assessment results are placed into five different categories. All will be submitted to EPA and the public, but only impaired listings requires EPA approval.

15 What does EPA have to do with all this? EPA has a responsibility to make sure all states are meeting requirements of the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act requires that states submit a status of their waters (called the 305(b) Report), as well as a list of Polluted Waters (the 303(d) list). This Assessment is an “Integrated Report that meets these two requirements. EPA must approve the Impaired Water List. States are then responsible for working to clean up those polluted waters.

16 How does Ecology put the Assessment together? 1.We develop written policies to help determine when a water is polluted or showing signs of pollution. 2.We compile all available water quality data we can, from many different groups 3.We assess the data by comparing it to existing water quality standards to see if we have problems. 4.Waters on Category 5, the 303(d) List, require a Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, to bring waters back into compliance with the standards.

17 Draft WQ Assessment: Factoids # of data records: >4 million # of water quality listings: > 31,000 (28% increase from 2012 Assessment) Transitions freshwater segments to National Hydrography Dataset (NHD).

18 What’s Next Public Review of Assessment March 17 – May 15, 2015. Public Workshops being held April 7, 9, 15 & 16. We will consider comments received and submit final to EPA in summer 2015. EPA approves Category 5, the 303(d) List. 18

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