Potential Revisions to Water Quality Standards Regulation

Proposed changes to the rules governing water quality and conservation in Wisconsin have generated interest from all corners of the state. Wisconsin, however, is not the only place where water quality is an issue for debate. The EPA recently announced that it will hold public listening sessions on potential changes to the water quality standards regulation on August 24 and 26, 2010.

Water quality standards are the foundation of the water quality-based approach to pollution control, including Total Maximum Daily Loads and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits. Standards are also a fundamental component of watershed management.

The current regulations:

  1. define when and how designated uses may be revised;
  2. require criteria to protect those uses be based on sound science;
  3. require the EPA and states to prevent the degradation of water quality, except under certain circumstances;
  4. require states/tribes to review their water quality standards at least every three years and engage the public in any revisions to water quality standards; and
  5. specify the roles of states, tribes, and the EPA and provide administrative procedures for the EPA’s review.

The EPA’s proposed changes will impose stricter standards and increase the EPA’s oversight power.

You can easily monitor changes in water quality regulation at both the state and national level with Hamilton Consulting’s Regulatory Watch Water Tracking Report.

(This post was authored by Hamilton consulting Group’s intern, Emily Kelchen, a third year law student at the University of Wisconsin Law School.)