Region 8 Water Quality Standards - Public ParticipationWant to get involved in determining water quality standards in your area?
Public participation in the water quality standards program is important because you can provide a wealth of information about the quality of the waters where you live (such as water flow at different times of the year, color, or aquatic life present) and waterbody uses (children's play and other recreational activities). This type of information is extremely helpful to the public officials trying to properly designate and protect the uses for all state/tribal waters, especially when states/tribes do not have the resources to consistently monitor a majority of their waters.
The Clean Water Act Section 303 (c)(1) requires states and authorized tribes to hold public hearings on their water quality standards at least once every three years. EPA's water quality standards regulations require that states and tribes also make the proposed water quality standards and supporting analyses available to the public prior to the hearing (40 CFR 131.20(b)). In addition, EPA's public participation regulation requires that each hearing be well publicized at least 45 days prior to the date of the hearing (40 CFR 25.5 (b)).
Most states and tribes publish hearing notices in local newspapers or on the radio, on the state/tribal agency website, and/or distribute it to the mailing list of interested parties that have requested notification. Hearings must be held at times and places which, to the maximum extent feasible, facilitate attendance by the public (40 CFR 25.5 (c)). Public hearings on water quality standards provide an opportunity for the public to become involved in the water quality standards setting process. Citizens may make recommendations on improvements or modifications in the standards during the public hearing process.
Responsiveness summaries are also required (40 CFR 25.10) and must identify the public participation activities conducted; describe the matters on which the public was consulted; summarize the public's views, significant comments, criticisms and suggestions; and set forth the agency's specific responses in terms of modifications of the proposed action or an explanation for rejection of proposals made by the public (40 CFR 25.8).
For more information on your state/tribe's water quality standards regulatory process, see the contacts and links provided on the State/Tribal WQS page.