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2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria

The 2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria reflect the latest scientific knowledge, public comments, and external peer review. The criteria are designed to protect the public from exposure to harmful levels of pathogens while participating in water-contact activities such as swimming, wading, and surfing in all waters designated for such recreational uses.

EPA last issued ambient water quality criteria recommendations for recreational waters in 1986. EPA issues such recommendations under the authority of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Amendments to the CWA by the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act of 2000 directed the EPA to conduct studies associated with pathogens and human health, and to publish new or revised criteria recommendations for pathogens and pathogen indicators based on those studies.

5-Year Review of the 2012 RWQC

As required by BEACH Act amendments to the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 304(a)(9)(B), EPA has begun a 5-year review of its recreational water quality criteria (RWQC). The goal of this review will be to inform the assessment of the need to revise the 2012 RWQC. The assessment will be based on the overall review findings, internal EPA evaluation of the science, input from the greater beach water quality community, and feedback from stakeholders.

On, July 26, 2017, EPA conducted a webinar to provide stakeholders with information on the review process and an opportunity to participate in a dialogue on the assessment of the 2012 RWQC.