[Federal Register Volume 65, Number 145 (Thursday, July 27, 2000)]
[Notices]
[Pages 46167-46169]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 00-19014]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

[OW-FRL-6841-7]


Nutrient Criteria Development; Notice of Nutrient Criteria 
Technical Guidance Manual: Rivers and Streams

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice of nutrient criteria technical guidance manual: rivers 
and streams.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Environmental Protection Agency announces the availability 
of a nutrient criteria technical guidance manual for Rivers and 
Streams. This document provides State and Tribal water quality managers 
and others with guidance on how to develop numeric nutrient criteria 
for Rivers and Streams. This document does not contain site-specific 
numeric nutrient criteria for any river or stream systems. This 
guidance was principally developed to assist States and Tribes in their 
efforts to establish nutrient criteria. States and Tribes are clearly 
in the best position to consider site-specific conditions in

[[Page 46168]]

developing nutrient criteria. While this guidance contains EPA's 
scientific recommendations regarding defensible approaches for 
developing regional nutrient criteria, this guidance is not regulation; 
thus it does not impose legally binding requirements on EPA, States, 
Territories, Tribes, or the public, and might not apply to a particular 
situation based upon the circumstances. States, Territories, and 
authorized Tribes retain the discretion to adopt, where appropriate, 
other scientifically defensible approaches for developing regional or 
local nutrient criteria that differ from these recommendations.
    We have decided to issue technical guidance in a manner similar to 
that which we are using to issue new and revised criteria (see Federal 
Register, December 10, 1998, 63 FR 68354 and in the EPA document 
titled, National Recommended Water Quality--Correction EPA 822-Z-99-
001, April 1999). Therefore, we invite the public to provide scientific 
views on this guidance. We will review and consider information 
submitted by the public on significant scientific issues that might not 
have otherwise been identified by the Agency during development of this 
guidance. This guidance has been through external peer review, and a 
summary of these comments is available on the Nutrient website (http://
www.EPA.gov/OST/standards/nutrient.html). After review of the submitted 
significant scientific information, the Agency will publish a revised 
document, or publish a notice indicating its decision not to revise the 
document.
    This document has been prepared for publication by the Office of 
Science and Technology, Office of Water, U.S. Environmental Protection 
Agency. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not 
constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.

DATES: All significant scientific information must be submitted by 
September 25, 2000. Any scientific information submitted should be 
adequately documented and contain enough supporting information to 
indicate that acceptable and scientifically defensible procedures were 
used and that the results are likely reliable.

ADDRESSES: This notice contains a summary of the Nutrient Criteria 
Technical Guidance Manual: Rivers and Streams. Copies of the complete 
document may be obtained from EPA's Water Resource Center by phone at 
202-260-7786, or by e-mail to: center.water-resource@epa.gov, or by 
conventional mail to EPA Water Resource Center, RC-4100, Ariel Rios 
Building, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20460. The 
document is also available electronically at: http://www.epa.gov/OST/
standards/nutrient.html.
    An original and two copies of written significant scientific 
information should sent to Robert Cantilli (MC-4304), U.S. EPA, Ariel 
Rios Building, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460. 
Written significant scientific information may be submitted 
electronically in ASCII or Word Perfect 5.1, 5.2, 6.1, or 8.0 formats 
to OW-General@epa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Debra Hart, USEPA, Health and 
Ecological Criteria Division (4304), Office of Science and Technology, 
Ariel Rios Building, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20460; 
or call (202) 260-0905; fax (202) 260-1036; or e-mail 
hart.debra@epa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Introduction

    On March 24, 1998, the President's Clean Water Action Plan was 
presented in the Federal Register. The Clean Water Action Plan 
specifically stated that EPA will establish recommended water quality 
criteria for nutrients that reflect the different types of water bodies 
and different ecoregions of the country and that will assist States and 
Tribes in adopting numeric water quality standards for nutrients. 
Consistent with the objectives of the Clean Water Action Plan, the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency presented a National Strategy for the 
Development of Regional Nutrient Criteria on June 25, 1998. The 
Strategy described the approach the Agency would follow in developing 
nutrient information and working with States and Tribes to adopt 
nutrient criteria as part of State/Tribal water quality standards. The 
major focus of the strategy is the development of waterbody-type 
technical guidance and recommended ecoregion-specific nutrient criteria 
by the year 2000. Once EPA develops waterbody-type guidance and 
recommended nutrient criteria, EPA intends to assist States and Tribes 
in adopting numeric nutrient criteria into water quality standards by 
the end of 2003.

Overview of the Problem

    Cultural eutrophication (i.e., that associated with humans) of 
United States surface waters is a long-standing problem; approximately 
half of the reported impairments in National waters are attributable to 
excess nutrients. Nitrogen and phosphorus are the primary cause of 
eutrophication, and algal blooms are often a response to enrichment. 
Within Rivers and Streams, chronic symptoms of overenrichment include 
low dissolved oxygen, fish kills, increased sediment accumulation, and 
species and abundance shifts of flora and fauna. The problem is 
National in scope, but varies in nature from one region of the country 
to another due to geographical variations in geology and soil types. 
For these reasons, EPA has decided to develop its recommend nutrient 
criteria on an ecoregional basis for use by States and Tribes.

Summary of Nutrient Criteria Technical Guidance Manual for Rivers 
and Streams

    EPA initiated the National Strategy to Develop Regional Nutrient 
Criteria to address enrichment problems. The Nutrient Criteria 
Technical Guidance Manual: Rivers and Streams is the second of a series 
of waterbody-type specific manuals produced to assist EPA Regions, 
States, and Tribes in establishing ecoregionally appropriate nutrient 
criteria. EPA is also developing manuals for estuarine/coastal waters 
and wetlands. EPA expects States and Tribes to use these manuals as the 
basis for developing State water quality standards for nutrients, to 
help identify water quality impairments, and to evaluate the relative 
success in reducing cultural eutrophication. In addition to developing 
these waterbody-type specific manuals, EPA is developing nutrient 
criteria guidance under section 304(a) for each of the 14 ecoregions it 
has identified in the continental United States. EPA expects States and 
Tribes to use the manuals, other information, and local expertise to 
refine EPA's 304(a) nutrient criteria guidance so that the nutrient 
water quality criteria eventually adopted by States and Tribes are 
tailored to more localized conditions. In order to assist States and 
Tribes in this undertaking, as well as to verify section 304 (a) 
nutrient criteria guidance, and to provide national consistency 
wherever possible, EPA has established Regional Technical Assistance 
Groups (RTAGs). RTAGs are a collection of EPA, other Federal agencies, 
State, and Tribal representatives who are working together to use EPA's 
forthcoming section 304(a) nutrient criteria guidance as a starting 
point for developing more refined ecoregional nutrient criteria. (EPA 
is also using data and expertise provided by the RTAGs in the 
development of its section 304(a) nutrient criteria guidance for the 14

[[Page 46169]]

ecoregions it has identified.) Today's manual for Rivers and Streams 
also explains how States or Tribes can adopt nutrient water quality 
standards based on the ecoregional criteria values recommended by the 
EPA and/or RTAGs.
    A directly prescriptive approach to nutrient criteria development 
is not appropriate due to regional differences that exist and the lack 
of a clear technical understanding of the relationship between 
nutrients, algal growth, and other factors (e.g., flow, light, 
substrata). Therefore, the approach chosen for criteria development 
must be tailored to meet the specific needs of each State or Tribe. The 
criteria development process described in this guidance can be divided 
into the following iterative steps.
    1. Identify water quality needs and goals with regard to managing 
nutrient enrichment problems.
    2. Classify rivers and streams first by type, and then by trophic 
status.
    3. Select variables for monitoring nutrients, algae, macrophytes, 
and their impacts.
    4. Design sampling program for monitoring nutrients and algal 
biomass in rivers and streams.
    5. Collect data and build database.
    6. Analyze data.
    7. Develop criteria based on reference condition and data analyses.
    8. Implement nutrient control strategies.
    9. Monitor effectiveness of nutrient control strategies and 
reassess the validity of nutrient criteria.
    The components of each step are explained in detail in succeeding 
chapters of the document. Appended to the guidance document are case 
studies from various ecoregions around the country and technical 
discussions of analytical methods, statistical analyses, and computer 
modeling.
    The Nutrient Criteria Technical Guidance Document: Rivers and 
Streams that is being announced in this Notice was developed after 
consideration of public comment and peer review. The draft technical 
guidance manual for Rivers and Streams was placed on the EPA Nutrient 
website (http://www.EPA.gov/OST/standards/nutrient.html) on October 8, 
1999, and EPA accepted correspondences and comments until June 23, 
2000. In addition, a peer review of the proposed criteria document was 
conducted by a panel of five external reviewers.

    Dated: July 20, 2000.
Jeanette Wiltse,
Acting Director, Office of Science and Technology.
[FR Doc. 00-19014 Filed 7-26-00; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6560-50-P