The following information highlights the most recent actions related to the water quality standards in Washington.
Human health criteria
On May 13, 2020, EPA published the final rule in the Federal Register to withdraw the federal water quality standards for certain human health criteria in Washington (40 CFR 131.45). The final rule went into effect on June 12, 2020.
This means that the federal criteria for arsenic, methylmercury, and bis (2-chloro-1-methylethyl) ether remain in place for Washington. All other human health criteria in place for Washington are listed in WAC 173-201A-240, Toxic Substances Criteria.
- Nov. 15, 2016 – EPA partially approved and partially disapproved certain human health criteria that Ecology submitted to EPA on Aug. 1, 2016
- May 10, 2019 – EPA released a statement that they are reversing their 2016 decision and approving the human health criteria standards Washington submitted in 2016.
- July 23, 2019 – EPA announced a draft rule to withdraw the federal water quality standards for certain human health criteria in Washington (40 CFR 131.45).
- April 16, 2020 – EPA announced their final rule to withdraw the federal water quality standards for certain human health criteria in Washington (40 CFR 131.45), no effective date stated.
The following are responses to EPA's actions from Ecology and other state agencies along with our press releases and formal comments on the rulemaking.
We use the rulemaking process
to meet our priorities and commitments regarding the standards.
Federal regulations require that we periodically hold public hearings to review surface water quality standards. This process is called a triennial review. This review gives us an opportunity to discuss priorities and commitments to update surface water quality standards.
When it is necessary to update the standards we go through the rulemaking process. We select the topics for rulemaking based on which actions will make the greatest environmental and/or administrative benefits.
Topics are prioritized based on:
- The expected environmental benefits.
- Changes in science
- Federal mandates or legal requirements.
- Requests for specific updates.
Water Quality Standards Project Manager - Rulemaking
Water Quality Standards Unit Supervisor - Triennial review
Toxics Water Quality Standards Scientist- Toxic pollutants
For questions about conventional pollutants (temperature, bacterial indicators):