The results of the state Department of Environmental Protection’s triennial review of West Virginia’s water quality standards have been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The DEP is required by law to review and make any necessary revisions to state water quality standards every three years. The EPA found most of the new or revised provisions submitted by the DEP to be consistent with the federal Clean Water Act and other EPA regulations.
The EPA approved all but one of the submitted revisions on Jan. 13, 2012, and did not act on three items submitted, based on the determination those revisions did not require federal approval under Section 303(c) of the CWA.
EPA-approved changes include: definition of “Cool Water Lakes” in West Virginia; addition of “algae blooms” to conditions not allowable in state waters; extending a half-mile rule exception on the Ohio River to mile points 61.0 to 63.5 and 70.0 to 71.0; the removal of the socio-economic variance for Harmon Creek; extension of the chloride variance for Davis Creek; revised chronic iron criterion for trout waters to match EPA-recommended criterion; and the addition of “organoleptic effects” to the definition of Category A Public Water Supply criteria.
The EPA took no action on three items, including a revision of the specified flow in the Monongahela River to the minimum flow regulated for navigation; and a revision of the critical design flow to harmonic mean for a section of the Ohio River. The third item pertained to the minimum sample size requirements for phosphorus and chlorophyll-a sampling for lakes.
The EPA did not approve the state’s weight of evidence language for applying numeric nutrient criteria to lakes, a significant component of the overall lake nutrient criteria. The weight of evidence approach allows the state to better assess and identify impaired lakes that warrant further action to address pollutant levels. The DEP and EPA are working cooperatively to come up with a plan for criteria implementation that would be acceptable to both agencies.
For more information about the state’s triennial review, contact the DEP’s Kevin Coyne at 304-926-0499, ext. 1110 or email: Kevin.R.Coyne@wv.gov