Updates to the surface water quality standards

We update the surface water quality standards to incorporate the latest science and to meet our priorities and commitments regarding the standards.

Current actions 

The following information highlights the most recent actions related to the water quality standards in Washington.

Human Health Criteria

On Nov. 15, 2016, EPA partially approved and partially disapproved certain human health criteria that Ecology submitted to EPA on Aug. 1, 2016. 

On 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.

On July 23, 2019, EPA announced a proposed rule to withdraw the federal water quality standards for certain human health criteria in Washington (40 CFR 131.45). Information on EPA's actions and process is available on their website

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. 

Current rulemaking

We use the rulemaking process to meet our priorities and commitments regarding the standards.

Triennial review 

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. 

Rulemaking process

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.