Element 6 - Designated Use

Designated uses are the uses for a water body, identified in the state Water Quality Standards,  that must be maintained in accordance with the federal Clean Water Act. Designated uses, including Clean Water Act Section 101 (a) presumed "fishable/swimmable" uses, are assigned to all classified water bodies in the state. It is the department's goal, through a stakeholder process, to expand the designation of these presumed uses to include all waters of the U.S. that lie within the state. It is also the department's goal to use a stakeholder process to evaluate the appropriateness of its current aquatic life use designations and consider options for moving towards a tiered aquatic life use designation.

Federal regulations require that a Use Attainability Analysis (UAA) be conducted where a state designates uses for a water body that do not include the Clean Water Act Section 101 "fishable/swimmable" uses, when the state wishes to remove these uses, or when the state adopts subcategories of such uses that require less stringent criteria. In a UAA, the physical, chemical, biological and economic factors affecting the attainment of a use are evaluated through a water body survey and assessment process. The department will review UAAs during the triennial review period to determine the appropriateness of any use changes. The department will also review comments and data received from the public supporting existing use designations, and will propose appropriate use changes as part of the triennial review process.