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News Releases from Region 10

EPA Proposes Water Quality Standards for Washington State

Contact Information: 
Mark MacIntyre EPA Public Affairs (macintyre.mark@epa.gov)

EPA has proposed a rule that revises the current federal Clean Water Act human health water quality criteria applicable to waters under the state of Washington's jurisdiction. The proposed rule would ensure that the criteria are set at levels that will adequately protect fish consumers in Washington from exposure to toxic pollutants. To protect fish consumers in Washington, including tribes with treaty protected rights, EPA proposes to derive the criteria using a Fish Consumption Rate of 175 g/day. The cancer risk level remains at the currently established 10-6 or one-in-one-million benchmark.

EPA will accept comments on the proposed rule for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

EPA would prefer that Washington finalize state water quality criteria that would protect fish consumers in Washington. It remains EPA's strong preference to support states in their development of water quality standards to protect state waters rather than to develop standards at the national level.

In 1992, EPA established Washington's existing criteria for the protection of human health as part of the National Toxics Rule, using the Agency's recommended criteria values at the time. EPA's proposed rule updates the fish consumption rate based on more recent regional and local fish consumption data, as well as updates the toxicity and exposure parameters used to calculate human health criteria. The proposal also takes into account applicable EPA policies, guidance, and legal requirements, to protect human health.

If the state of Washington submits final criteria to EPA for approval under the Clean Water Act before EPA finalizes the federal human health water quality criteria, EPA will review and act upon the state's submission in a timely manner and prior to any final action on the federal criteria. If EPA approves criteria submitted by the state, the corresponding federal criteria will not be finalized.

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