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Revision of New York's Water Quality Standards Regulations

DEC is conducting its federally-mandated "triennial review" of the State's water quality standards, in which States are required to review their water quality standards every three years. DEC is in the pre-public proposal phase of this rule, and staff is considering a wide range of revisions/additions to water quality standards regulations, as outlined in the table below.

DEC will be completing a draft proposal over the next several months. Following that, we will conduct an assessment of the regulatory impact of the proposed changes. Once that is completed, and the proposal has undergone full internal review, it will be released for public comment. A public hearing to accept comments will be held, as will (contingent upon sufficient resources) a number of public information meetings around the State. Notification of the formal public process will be made via both the New York State Register and the Environmental Notice Bulletin. The exact timing of this cannot be predicted, but the DEC currently anticipates this to be sometime in 2014.

Key Components Being Considered For Draft Water Quality Standards Rule

(All regulatory citations below refer to Parts of 6 NYCRR)

Component Regulatory Citation
Add or revise definitions that support the water quality standards regulations. 700.1
Revise and expand language regarding the issuance of mixing zones for the discharge of treated wastewater (move some existing language from 700.2 to 702.16 and revise/expand). 700.2 and 702.16
Revise language in 700.2 and 700.3 regarding analytical methods, collection of samples, QA/QC, clarify/ensure monitoring is in scientifically sound and representative. 700.2 and 700.3
Revise 701.13 to require that all or some Class I marine waters have water quality suitable for primary contact recreation (swimming) in order to meet the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) "swimmable" goal (currently met in many areas [1]. 701.13
Change (as for Class I) to 701.14 for some Class SD marine waters; also require water quality for SD waters suitable for secondary contact recreation [1]. 701.14
Clarify regulations (701.15 - 701.18) regarding the classification of fresh vs. saline groundwaters. Clarify/revise regulations (702.16) regarding groundwater effluent limitations for substances with guidance values; make standards in Table 1 of 703.5 and groundwater effluent limitations in Table 3 of 703.5 applicable to GSA saline groundwaters as well as fresh (GA) groundwaters. 701.15 - 701.18
Revise/update procedures for deriving water quality standards for human health and aquatic life, including for Health (Water Source) standards (702.2.4.and 5), Health (Fish Consumption (702.8), and Aquatic Life (702.9 and Part 706). 702.2, 702.4, 702.5, 702.8, 702.9, and 706
Review and as necessary, revise narrative standards in 703.2. Consider adding new narrative standards for biological integrity, aquatic invasive species, and possibly to address harmful algae / harmful algae blooms (HABs). 703.2
For Class I marine waters, revise Dissolved Oxygen (D.O.) standard to be the same as the existing D.O. standard for Classes SA, SB, and SC (I waters were left off Marine DO previously due to lack of regulatory impact info). 703.3
Add/Revise Pathogen Indicators for Recreational Waters to reflect new EPA criteria (based on EPA criteria to be released in October 2012). 703.4
Add/revise Standards for Class SA marine shellfishing waters (to be consistent with existing DEC regulations for the harvesting of shellfish, as set forth by the DEC's Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources. 703.4, relates to 6 NYCRR Part 47
Add/revise water quality standards for toxic substances to protect human health and aquatic life; consider adding more standards to protect wildlife. 703.5 Table 1
Consider adding new or revised provisions which are intended to address the overall consistency between standards and the assessment of water quality as provided for in the State's assessment methodology, including factors such as natural conditions/variability (a specific example is seasonally low D.O. in naturally stratified lakes including but not limited to Onondaga Lake). TBD

[1] US EPA has indicated all waters should support fishable/swimmable goals.

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