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2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria

EPA issued its current ambient water quality criteria recommendations for recreational waters in 2012 reflecting 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 water bodies designated for such recreational uses.

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. Prior to 2012, EPA had last issued RWQC in 1986.

Five-Year Review of the 2012 RWQC

On May 4, 2018, EPA published its five-year review of the 2012 RWQC as required by BEACH Act amendments to the CWA (2000). The review includes a detailed assessment of the state of the science and advances made since 2010 that support the RWQC and enhance its implementation.  On the basis of the review described in the review report, the EPA has decided not to revise the 2012 Recreational Water Criteria during this review cycle. The Agency believes, however, that further research and analysis as identified in the report will contribute to the EPA's future review of the 2012 RWQC.

Webinar for Stakeholders on the Review and Assessment

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.