Final Rulemaking to Update the National Water Quality Standards Regulation
On August 5, 2015, the EPA Administrator signed a final rule updating six key areas of the federal water quality standards regulation which helps implement the Clean Water Act. The final rule was published in the Federal Register on August 21, 2015 (80 FR 51019). The results are included in 40 CFR 131. The final revisions provide a better-defined pathway for states and authorized tribes to improve water quality, protect high quality waters, increase transparency and enhance opportunities for meaningful public engagement at the state, tribal and local levels. The previous regulation had been in place since 1983.
- Final Revisions
- Webinar Series
- Proposed Revisions
- Completed Outreach
- How to Get Additional Information
The following key program areas are addressed in the final rule: (1) EPA Administrator's determinations that new or revised water quality standards are necessary, (2) designated uses for water bodies, (3) triennial reviews of state and tribal WQS, (4) antidegradation requirements, (5) WQS variances, and (6) provisions authorizing the use of schedules of compliance for water quality-based effluent limits (WQBELs) in NPDES permits. The docket for this rulemaking is available at Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2010-0606.
- Fact Sheet: Water Quality Standards Regulatory Revisions (PDF)
- Summary of WQS Regulatory Revisions Final Rule (pdf)
- Federal Register Notice (August 21, 2015)
- Federal Register Notice Correction (September 25, 2015)
- Supplemental Information - New or Updated CWA Section 304(a) Criteria Recommendations Published since May 30, 2000 (pdf)
- Supplemental Information - Comparison of Proposed Rule Language and Final Rule Language (pdf)
- Supplemental Information - Comparison of Previously Applicable Rule Language (pdf)
- Supplemental Information - 40 CFR Part 131 Showing Final Rule Language
- Supporting Documents In Docket For Final WQS Regulations Docket Folder
- Response to Comments Document
In September and October 2015, EPA held a series of webinars on the Water Quality Standards Regulatory Revisions Final Rule. Four topics were discussed: (1) WQS Final Rule Overview; (2) WQS Variances In-Depth; (3) Antidegradation In-Depth; and (4) Designated Uses In-Depth. Webinars for each topic included a presentation, followed two days later by a one hour question and answer session.
EPA recorded each of the four presentation webinars and intends to post the recordings for future viewing. The recordings are being prepared and will be posted as soon as possible.
The following key program areas were addressed in the proposed rule: (1) EPA Administrator's determinations that new or revised water quality standards are necessary, (2) designated uses for water bodies, (3) triennial reviews of state and tribal WQS, (4) antidegradation provisions to protect water quality, (5) variances to WQS, and (6) compliance schedule authorizing provisions.
EPA provided a 120-day public comment period after the proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on September 4, 2013. The docket for this available rulemaking is available at Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2010-0606. The public comment period for this proposed rule ended on January 2, 2014.
- Proposed Rule Federal Register Notice (September 4, 2013)
- Comment Period Extension Federal Register Notice (November 27, 2013)
- Supplemental Information - Comparison of Existing Rule Language and Proposed Rule Language (pdf)
- Fact Sheet: Proposed Water Quality Standards Regulatory Revisions (PDF)
- Summary of WQS Regulatory Revisions Proposed Rule (pdf)
- Supporting Documents In Docket for Proposed WQS Regulations Docket Folder
Proposed Rule Outreach
- Proposed Rule Webinar 1 - September 24, 2013
On September 24, 2013, EPA held the first public webinar for the proposed rule. The webinar allowed EPA to discuss the contents of the proposed rule and allowed interested parties the opportunity to ask clarifying questions prior to the close of the public comment period.
- Proposed Rule Public Meeting - October 29, 2013 in Washington, DC
On October 29, EPA held a public meeting with interested parties face-to-face to discuss the contents of the "Water Quality Standards Regulatory Clarifications" Proposed Rule. After EPA's presentation on the contents of the proposed rule, interested parties had the opportunity to ask clarifying questions.
- Proposed Rule Webinar 2 - November 14, 2013
On November 14, 2013, EPA held the second public webinar for the proposed rule. The webinar allowed EPA to discuss the contents of the proposed rule and allowed interested parties the opportunity to ask clarifying questions prior to the close of the public comment period.
- Proposed Rule Webinar 1 - September 24, 2013
2010 Listening Sessions
In August 2010, as the Agency began work on the proposal, EPA held two informal public listening sessions via audio teleconference to inform the public about the rulemaking, and to receive views on clarifications to the water quality standards regulation that were under consideration. The sessions provided a review of EPA’s current regulation and a summary of the clarifications that EPA is considering with time allotted for questions and comments. The agenda and resource materials were identical for both sessions.
EPA Listening Session Records
How to Get Additional Information
If you have questions or comments, you may email (WQSRegulatoryClarifications@epa.gov) or call 202-566-1860.
To receive information updates by email, you may subscribe to EPA’s list server forum, “WQS-News.” To subscribe or unsubscribe, follow the instructions and specify wqs-news as the name of the forum.