The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on September 4, 2013, proposed revisions to the agency’s Water Quality regulations at 40 CFR Part 131. 78 Fed Reg. 54518 (Sept. 4, 2013). Although EPA is largely codifying and clarifying existing agency practices, the proposed revisions nonetheless represent the most significant change to the water quality regulations in three decades.

EPA Hopes Its Revised Regulations Will Lead to More Waters Like this One (Source: www. epa.gov)

EPA Hopes Its Revised Regulations Will Lead to More Waters Like this One (Source: www. epa.gov)

Although the rulemaking involves solely federal regulations, it has direct implications for Minnesota’s own water quality and permitting programs because the federal regulations set the baseline requirements for state programs. The proposed rule addresses six key areas: (1) the EPA Administrator’s determinations that new or revised water quality standards (WQS) are necessary, (2) designated uses for water bodies, (3) triennial reviews of state and tribal WQS, (4) antidegradation provisions to protect water quality, (5) variances to WQS (establishing a separate set of standards specific for variances), and (6) compliance schedule authorizing provisions (codifying EPA’s longstanding interpretation, set forth in the EPA Appeals Board 1990 In the Matter of Star-Kist Caribe, Inc decision, that compliance schedules may only be issued if the state/tribe has authorized them in their WQS or implementing regulations). EPA is accepting comments on the proposed regulations until January 2, 2014.

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