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Federal Water Quality Standards Requirements

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Federal Regulation for Water Quality Standards

The Water Quality Standards Regulation (40 CFR 131) establishes the requirements for states and tribes to review, revise and adopt water quality standards. It also establishes the procedures for EPA to review, approve, disapprove and promulgate water quality standards pursuant to section 303 (c) of the Clean Water Act.

Final Rulemaking to Update the National Water Quality Standards Regulation (August 21, 2015)


Review and Approval of State and Tribal Water Quality Standards, "Alaska Rule" (Effective May 30, 2000)

We require that water quality standards adopted by states and authorized tribes on or after May 30, 2000 must be approved by EPA before they can be used as the basis for actions, such as establishing water quality-based effluent limitations or total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), under the Clean Water Act.
Proposed State and Tribal Water Quality Standards, "Alaska Rule": (Proposed June 1999)
Water Quality Standards: 40 CFR 131 (Amended December 14, 1994)

Federal Guidance for Standards in the Great Lakes System

The Water Quality Guidance for the Great Lakes System was issued in 1995.  It established minimum standards, antidegradation policies, and implementation procedures for waters of the Great Lakes system. This includes special requirements for bioaccumulative chemicals of concern. The eight Great Lakes states were required to adopt water quality standards as protective as these requirements within two years (by 1997).

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