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Release Date: 1/25/1996
Contact Information: Dave Schmidt, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1578

 (San Francisco)--  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) today announced that it has proposed to adopt federal water quality standards for some of Arizona's waterways that are currently not covered by the state's standards.  The proposed standards would apply to some mining impoundments, which are currently exempted, and 100 streams where standards would be upgraded to safeguard the health of people who eat fish caught in these streams.

     The state of Arizona has already proposed a set of water quality standards to meet these objectives, but under state procedural rules these standards can not take effect until later this year.  U.S. EPA is proposing the standards under an order from a federal court.  Last November, in response to a suit by the Defenders of Wildlife, the U.S. District Court for Arizona ordered U.S. EPA to propose new Arizona standards by the end of January, and put them into effect by the end of April.

     The state of Arizona is currently in the process of adopting its own water quality standards and implementation procedures that are substantially similar to those U.S. EPA is proposing.  U.S. EPA supports and encourages the State's actions to carry out its role under the Clean Water Act.  When Arizona completes its adoption process and U.S. EPA approves the State standards, the federal standards will no longer be needed.

     U.S. EPA's proposal will be published in the Federal Register within the next few days.  For at least 30 days following publication, U.S. EPA will accept written comments on it from the public.  Any written comments should be addressed to Catherine Kuhlman, W-5, U.S. EPA, 75 Hawthorne St., San Francisco, CA 94105.

     The economic impact of the proposed standards would be minimal, since they represent only minor changes in the state's existing program.  They would nonetheless help prevent water pollution from mining impoundments and strengthen health protections for people who eat fish.

     Water quality standards covering all major pollutants and applying to all other waterways in Arizona have already been adopted by the State and reviewed and approved by U.S. EPA.

     Under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), U.S. EPA is required to review and approve or disapprove state-adopted water quality standards.  These standards are the basis for many water pollution control programs, including wastewater discharge permitting and pollution prevention planning.  Under the CWA, states must adopt standards that protect human health, aquatic life, and the designated uses of a waterway.  Designated uses include drinking water, protection of aquatic life, agriculture, irrigation, boating, fishing, and swimming.

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