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2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria Documents

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.

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