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A water quality standard is a rule or law comprised of the use or uses to be made of a water body or segment and the water quality criteria necessary to protect that use or uses. States have primary responsibility for establishing appropriate uses of water bodies through a periodic review process involving consultation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and public hearings, which must occur at least once every three years. Where designated uses do not include those specified in the goals of the Clean Water Act (that is, fishable/swimmable), the state is required to conduct a use attainability analysis. The EPA has provided guidance for doing such an analysis.
Criteria are elements of state water quality standards expressed as constituent concentrations or levels, or narrative statements, that represent a quality of water that supports a particular use. When criteria are properly selected and met, it is presumed that water quality will protect the designated use. The EPA is recommending that states develop site-specific criteria to reflect local conditions and has provided guidance for doing so.
water quality, standards, toxicology, ambient water quality criteria, designated uses, use attainability analysis, site-specific criteria
Chief of Water Quality Criteria Section, Office of Water Regulations and Standards, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC,