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.You may need a PDF reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.
- Fact Sheet: Revised: 2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria (PDF)(2 pp, 165 K)
- 2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria Document (PDF)(69 pp, 794 K)
- Errata for Recreational Water Quality Criteria (PDF)(1 pg, 26 K)
- Appendix A: Translation of 1986 Criteria Risk to Equivalent Risk Levels for Use with New Health Data Developed Using Rapid Methods for Measuring Water Quality (PDF)(7 pp, 87 K)
- Appendix B: NEEAR data used for comparison to EPA's epidemiological studies from the late 1970s and early 1980s (PDF)(8 pp, 137 K)
- Appendix C: Analysis of NEEAR culture data: combining marine and freshwaters (PDF)(6 pp, 98 K)
- 2015 RWQC Implementation Materials (PDF)(2 pp, 86 K)
- Overview of Technical Support Materials: A Guide to the Site-Specific Alternative Recreational Criteria TSM Documents (PDF)(20 pp, 591 K)
- Site-Specific Alternative Recreational Criteria Technical Support Materials For Alternative Indicators and Methods (PDF)(85 pp, 3 MB)