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Water Quality Standards Variance Building Tool

About This Tool

The Water Quality Standards (WQS) Variance Building Tool is an implementation support tool designed to help states, territories, and authorized tribes determine whether a WQS variance is an appropriate tool for a particular situation and, if so, help the entity navigate the requirements at 40 CFR Part 131.14 to determine what a legally binding WQS variance would look like and what additional information must be documented and submitted to EPA to support the WQS variance. The draft regulatory language that results from the use of this tool is intended as a regulatory framework for the state, territory, or authorized tribe to use as a starting point when drafting a legally binding WQS variance. States, territories, and authorized tribes may tailor the draft regulatory language to include additional information that more accurately captures the case-specific facts of the individual WQS variance or fits a desired format as long as all federal requirements are met. The final regulatory language and all necessary supporting documentation can then be adopted and submitted to EPA for Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 303(c) review.

Use of this tool and resulting draft regulatory language does not guarantee EPA approval. EPA encourages early and frequent coordination between a state, territory, or authorized tribe and their EPA Region before adopting the WQS variance to provide the best chance that the submission meets the requirements of the CWA and EPA’s regulations. (See EPA’s website for relevant contact information.)

WQS variances for waters discharging to the Great Lakes System are also subject to the requirements at 40 CFR Part 132. Where these two regulations overlap, the more stringent regulation applies.

Variance Building Tool Version 1.0 (2017.08.23)

How to Use This Tool

Answer the questions provided in the “Use the Variance Building Tool” tab to begin populating the draft regulatory language for your water quality standards (WQS) variance. EPA has provided examples for questions that require you to type in a response, and these examples are formatted such that they will fit grammatically into the draft regulatory language. It is recommended that you follow the format provided to reduce the likelihood that the draft regulatory language will have grammatical errors. If there is an instance where your response does not fit the standard format, you can always insert your desired format into the draft regulatory language later on. States, territories, and authorized tribes may tailor the draft regulatory language to include additional information that more accurately captures the case-specific facts of the individual WQS variance or fits a desired format as long as all federal requirements are met.

Before using this tool, EPA recommends reviewing the Water Quality Standards Variance Building Tool – FAQs (PDF)(2 pp, 140 K), as well as the Checklist for Water Quality Standards Variance Supporting Documentation Requirements (PDF)(1 pg, 160K), so you can be prepared with the necessary information to answer each question prior to beginning the tool.

As you progress through the questions, this tool will record each of your responses. To view your responses to any previous question, click the “Show/Hide Responses” button. Using the “Show/Hide Responses” button, you may also copy your responses into another document. You may return to previous questions by clicking “Go Back” or by clicking on the link to a particular question in the “Progress” list. If you wish to clear all your responses and start fresh, you may click “Start Over.” If you close your browser, this tool will save your progress so you can continue your work at a later time. Please note that responses are stored within your computer’s internet browser and are not transmitted to EPA or anywhere else.

After you have answered all of the questions, be sure to scroll down to the draft regulatory language provided by this tool. States, territories, and authorized tribes may wish to use this draft regulatory language as a regulatory framework to start discussions with their EPA Region and stakeholders as they begin drafting a legally binding WQS variance. Once the state, territory or authorized tribe has tailored the WQS variance to fit their situation, the entity may adopt the WQS variance and then submit it and all the required supporting documentation to EPA for Clean Water Act Section 303(c) review.

Use the Variance Building Tool

Questions/Information

 

Progress

Single Discharger-Specific WQS Variance

The [Q1] hereby adopts a Water Quality Standards (WQS) variance for [T4]. This WQS variance is for the [T2] criterion, expressed as [T3], and the associated [T1], and only applies to the specified discharger and waterbody/waterbody segment in this WQS variance. The [Q1] adopts this WQS variance based on its findings, justifying the need for a WQS variance consistent with the requirements of 40 CFR Part 131.14. [When submitting your WQS variance, be sure to provide supporting documentation to justify the need for the WQS variance consistent with 40 CFR Part 131.14(b)(2)(i).] This WQS variance expires [T14]. [When submitting your WQS variance, be sure to provide supporting documentation to describe the actions that will occur during this timeframe to justify the duration of the WQS variance consistent with 40 CFR Part 131.14(b)(2)(ii).]

A WQS variance is a time-limited designated use and criterion that reflects the highest attainable condition during the term specified in this WQS variance. If approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this WQS variance will be the applicable water quality standard in effect for the purposes of developing CWA Section 301(b)(1)(C) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limits. The WQS variance may also be used for purposes of CWA Section 401 certifications. The underlying designated use and associated criterion remain applicable for all other CWA purposes, and all other uses and associated criteria not specified in this WQS remain applicable for all CWA purposes.

The interim requirements applicable throughout the term of this WQS variance represent the [Q22]. These interim requirements are expressed as [T10][T11][T12]. [Q24] [T13] The applicable interim requirements of this WQS variance are either the highest attainable condition adopted in this WQS variance or the highest attainable condition later identified during any reevaluation of this WQS variance conducted as specified in the paragraph below, whichever is more stringent.

The [Q1] shall reevaluate the highest attainable condition of this WQS variance, using all existing and readily available information, [T15], and will submit the results of the reevaluation to the EPA within 30 days of completion of the reevaluation.

If the [Q1] does not complete a reevaluation at the frequency specified in this rule, or does not submit to the EPA the results of the reevaluation within 30 days of completion of the reevaluation, the WQS variance will no longer be the applicable water quality standard until the [Q1] completes and submits the reevaluation to the EPA. The [Q1] intends to obtain public input on the reevaluation by [T16].

Multiple Discharger-Specific WQS Variance

The [Q1] hereby adopts a Water Quality Standards (WQS) variance for [T5]. This WQS variance is for the [T2] criterion, expressed as [T3], and the associated [T1], and only applies to the dischargers and waterbody/waterbody segment(s) specified in this WQS variance. The [Q1] adopts this WQS variance based on its findings, justifying the need for a WQS variance consistent with the requirements of 40 CFR Part 131.14. [When submitting your WQS variance, be sure to provide supporting documentation to justify the need for the WQS variance consistent with 40 CFR Part 131.14(b)(2)(i).] This WQS variance expires [T14]. [When submitting your WQS variance, be sure to provide supporting documentation to describe the actions that will occur during this timeframe to justify the duration of the WQS variance consistent with 40 CFR Part 131.14(b)(2)(ii)]

A WQS variance is a time-limited designated use and criterion that reflects the highest attainable condition during the term specified in this WQS variance. If approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this WQS variance will be the applicable water quality standard in effect for the purposes of developing CWA Section 301(b)(1)(C) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limits. The WQS variance may also be used for purposes of CWA Section 401 certifications. The underlying designated use and associated criterion remain applicable for all other CWA purposes, and all other uses and associated criteria not specified in this WQS remain applicable for all CWA purposes.

The interim requirements applicable throughout the term of this WQS variance represent the [Q22]. These interim requirements are expressed as [T10][T11][T12]. [Q24][T13] The applicable interim requirements of this WQS variance are either the highest attainable condition adopted in this WQS variance or the highest attainable condition later identified during any reevaluation of this WQS variance conducted as specified in the paragraph below, whichever is more stringent.

The [Q1] shall reevaluate the highest attainable condition of this WQS variance, using all existing and readily available information, [T15], and will submit the results of the reevaluation to the EPA within 30 days of completion of the reevaluation.

If the [Q1] does not complete a reevaluation at the frequency specified in this rule, or does not submit to the EPA the results of the reevaluation within 30 days of completion of the reevaluation, the WQS variance will no longer be the applicable water quality standard until the [Q1] completes and submits the reevaluation to the EPA. The [Q1] intends to obtain public input on the reevaluation by [T16].

[Replace the example placeholder table below with your table of dischargers that includes the name, permit number (if available), receiving waterbody, and the highest attainable condition for each discharger.]
 
Table A: Dischargers Subject to this WQS Variance
Discharger NPDES Permit No.
(if available)
Receiving Waterbody Highest Attainable Condition (HAC)
Company Name 1 NPDES Permit No. 1 Receiving Waterbody 1 HAC 1
Company Name 2 NPDES Permit No. 2 Receiving Waterbody 2 HAC 2
Company Name 3 NPDES Permit No. 3 Receiving Waterbody 3 HAC 3
... ... ... ...

Multiple Discharger-Specific (w/ Eligibility Requirements) WQS Variance

The [Q1] hereby adopts a Water Quality Standards (WQS) variance for the [T2] criterion, expressed as [T3], and the associated [T1], and only applies to the dischargers and waterbody/waterbody segment(s) specified in this WQS variance. Dischargers that are eligible for coverage under this WQS variance must meet the following specific requirements: [T7]. The dischargers that meet these requirements at the time the WQS variance is adopted include: [T6]. For a list of all dischargers subject to this WQS variance, see the [T8]. Additional waterbodies/waterbody segments potentially affected by this WQS variance include: [T9]. The [Q1] adopts this WQS variance based on its findings, justifying the need for a WQS variance consistent with the requirements of 40 CFR Part 131.14. [When submitting your WQS variance, be sure to provide supporting documentation to justify the need for the WQS variance consistent with 40 CFR Part 131.14(b)(2)(i).] This WQS variance expires [T14]. [When submitting your WQS variance, be sure to provide supporting documentation to describe the actions that will occur during this timeframe to justify the duration of the WQS variance consistent with 40 CFR Part 131.14(b)(2)(ii).]

A WQS variance is a time-limited designated use and criterion that reflects the highest attainable condition during the term specified in this WQS variance. If approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this WQS variance will be the applicable water quality standard in effect for the purposes of developing CWA Section 301(b)(1)(C) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limits. The WQS variance may also be used for purposes of CWA Section 401 certifications. The underlying designated use and associated criterion remain applicable for all other CWA purposes, and all other uses and associated criteria not specified in this WQS remain applicable for all CWA purposes.

The interim requirements applicable throughout the term of this WQS variance represent the [Q22]. These interim requirements are expressed as [T10][T11][T12]. [Q24] [T13] The applicable interim requirements of this WQS variance are either the highest attainable condition adopted in this WQS variance or the highest attainable condition later identified during any reevaluation of this WQS variance conducted as specified in the paragraph below, whichever is more stringent.

The [Q1] shall reevaluate the highest attainable condition of this WQS variance, using all existing and readily available information, [T15], and will submit the results of the reevaluation to the EPA within 30 days of completion of the reevaluation.

If the [Q1] does not complete a reevaluation at the frequency specified in this rule, or does not submit to the EPA the results of the reevaluation within 30 days of completion of the reevaluation, the WQS variance will no longer be the applicable water quality standard until the [Q1] completes and submits the reevaluation to the EPA. The [Q1] intends to obtain public input on the reevaluation by [T16].
 

[Replace the example placeholder table below with your table of dischargers that includes the name, permit number (if available), receiving waterbody, and the highest attainable condition for each discharger.]
 
Table A: Dischargers Subject to this WQS Variance
Discharger NPDES Permit No.
(if available)
Receiving Waterbody Highest Attainable Condition (HAC)
Company Name 1 NPDES Permit No. 1 Receiving Waterbody 1 HAC 1
Company Name 2 NPDES Permit No. 2 Receiving Waterbody 2 HAC 2
Company Name 3 NPDES Permit No. 3 Receiving Waterbody 3 HAC 3
... ... ... ...

Waterbody/Waterbody Segment Variance

The [Q1] hereby adopts a Water Quality Standards (WQS) variance for the [T2] criterion, expressed as [T3], and the associated [T1], that applies to [T17]. The [Q1] adopts this WQS variance based on its findings, justifying the need for a WQS variance consistent with the requirements of 40 CFR Part 131.14. [When submitting your WQS variance, be sure to provide supporting documentation to justify the need for the WQS variance consistent with 40 CFR Part 131.14(b)(2)(i).] This WQS variance expires [T21]. [When submitting your WQS variance, be sure to provide supporting documentation to describe the actions that will occur during this timeframe to justify the duration of the WQS variance consistent with 40 CFR Part 131.14(b)(2)(ii).]

A WQS variance is a time-limited designated use and criterion that reflects the highest attainable condition during the term specified in this WQS variance. If approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this WQS variance will be the applicable water quality standard in effect for the purposes of developing CWA Section 301(b)(1)(C) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limits. The WQS variance may also be used for purposes of CWA Section 401 certifications. The underlying designated use and associated criterion remain applicable for all other CWA purposes, and all other uses and associated criteria not specified in this WQS remain applicable for all CWA purposes.

The interim requirements applicable throughout the term of this WQS variance represent the [Q33].These interim requirements are expressed as [T18][T19]. [Q35] [T20] The applicable interim requirements of this WQS variance are either the highest attainable condition adopted in this WQS variance or the highest attainable condition later identified during any reevaluation of this WQS variance conducted as specified in the paragraph below, whichever is more stringent.

The [Q1] shall reevaluate the highest attainable condition of this WQS variance, using all existing and readily available information, [T22], and will submit the results of the reevaluation to the EPA within 30 days of completion of the reevaluation. [When submitting your WQS variance, be sure to provide supporting documentation identifying any cost-effective and reasonable best management practices for nonpoint source controls related to the pollutant or water quality parameter specified in this WQS variance consistent with 40 CFR Part 131.14(b)(2)(iii)(A). For subsequent variances to this waterbody or waterbody segment, also document whether and to what extent best management practices for nonpoint source controls were implemented and what water quality progress was achieved consistent with 40 CFR Part 131.14(b)(2)(iii)(B).]

If the [Q1] does not complete a reevaluation at the frequency specified in this rule, or does not submit to the EPA the results of the reevaluation within 30 days of completion of the reevaluation, the WQS variance will no longer be the applicable water quality standard until the [Q1] completes and submits the reevaluation to the EPA. The [Q1] intends to obtain public input on the reevaluation by [T23].

Responses

    Resources

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