Element 6 - Water Quality Criteria

Water quality criteria are limits on particular chemicals or conditions in a waterbody to protect particular designated uses. Water quality criteria can be expressed as specific numeric criteria or as general narrative statements. The department will, as part of its triennial Water Quality Standards review process, evaluate the appropriateness of established water quality criteria for protecting designated uses. As part of this process the department will review EPA 304(a) recommended criteria and, when appropriate, either adopt these criteria or propose alternate criteria. The department will also consider proposals from third-party stakeholders for the establishment of site-specific criteria, and will review and evaluate these proposals and all supporting data for the appropriateness of establishing such criteria.

It is the department's goal, through a stakeholder process, to develop numeric nutrient criteria for the protection of aquatic life in classified streams and lakes. More information regarding the department's development of nutrient criteria can be found on the Water Protection Program website at nutrient criteria web page. The department established a tiered aquatic habitat use framework on Feb. 28, 2014. This framework will be refined by the department in future rulemaking.