[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 245 (Wednesday, December 21, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 79176-79177]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-32651]


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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

[EPA-OW-2011-0466; FRL-9609-3]


Notice of Availability of Draft Recreational Water Quality 
Criteria and Request for Scientific Views

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: Pursuant to section 304(a) of the Clean Water Act (CWA), the 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing the availability of 
the draft document Recreational Water Quality Criteria (RWQC). The 
document contains the EPA's draft ambient water quality criteria 
recommendations for protecting human health in ambient waters that are 
designated for primary contact recreation. CWA Section 304(c) water 
quality criteria recommendations are intended as guidance to States and 
authorized Tribes in developing water quality standards. The draft RWQC 
document describes the relevant scientific findings, explains how these 
findings were used to derive criteria, and lists the water quality 
methods associated with the criteria.
    The draft RWQC differs from the current 1986 RWQC in the following 
ways: the EPA introduces a new term, Statistical Threshold Value (STV), 
as a clarification and replacement for the term single sample maximum 
(SSM); there are no longer recommendations for different criteria 
values for beaches used with more or less frequency; the EPA introduces 
a rapid analytical technique for the detection of enterococci in 
recreational water; the EPA provides information on tools for assessing 
and managing recreational waters, such as predictive modeling, and for 
developing site-specific criteria.
    The CWA, as amended by the Beaches Environmental Assessment and 
Coastal Health (BEACH) Act of 2000, requires the EPA to conduct studies 
associated with pathogens and human health under Section 104(v), and to 
publish new or revised criteria for pathogens and pathogen indicators 
based on those studies under Section 304(a)(9). The draft criteria 
announced today for scientific views are the draft new or revised 
criteria that EPA is required to publish under Section 304(a)(9) of the 
CWA, as amended by the BEACH Act.

DATES: Scientific views must be received on or before February 21, 
2012. Comments postmarked after this date may not be considered.

ADDRESSES: Submit your scientific views, identified by Docket ID No. 
EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0466, and obtain the document (EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0466-0002) 
by one of the following methods:
     www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line instructions for 
submitting comments.
     Email: OW-Docket@epa.gov.
     Mail: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; EPA Docket 
Center (EPA/DC) Water Docket, MC 28221T; 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., 
Washington, DC 20460.
     Hand Delivery: EPA Docket Center, 1301 Constitution Ave. 
NW., EPA West, Room 3334, Washington, DC. Such deliveries are only 
accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation, and special 
arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.
    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-
0466. The EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included 
in the public docket without change and may be made available online at 
www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, 
unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential 
Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is 
restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to 
be CBI or otherwise protected through www.regulations.gov or email. The 
www.regulations.gov Web site is an ``anonymous access'' system, which 
means the EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless 
you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email 
comment directly to the EPA without going through www.regulations.gov 
your email address will be automatically captured and included as part 
of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available 
on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, the EPA 
recommends that you include your name and other contact information in 
the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If the 
EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot 
contact you for clarification, the EPA may not be able to consider your 
comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, 
any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses. For 
additional information about the EPA's public docket visit the EPA 
Docket Center homepage at http://www.epa.gov/epahome/dockets.htm.
    Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the 
www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some 
information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information 
whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such 
as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in hard copy. 
Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically 
in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the Office of Water Docket/
EPA/DC, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., EPA West, Room 3334, Washington, 
DC. This Docket Facility is open from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., EST, 
Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number 
for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number 
for the Office of Water Docket is (202) 566-2426.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For questions concerning the science 
supporting this criteria, contact Sharon Nappier, Health and Ecological 
Criteria Division (4304T), nappier.sharon@epa.gov, U.S. EPA, 1200 
Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460; (202) 566-0740. For 
questions concerning the use of EPA's criteria recommendations, contact 
Tracy Bone, Standards and Health Protection Division (4305T), 
bone.tracy@epa.gov, U.S. EPA, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, 
DC 20460; (202) 564-5257.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. What are Section 304(a) water quality criteria?

    Section 304(a) water quality criteria are recommendations developed 
by EPA under authority of section 304(a) of the Clean Water Act based 
on the latest scientific information on the relationship that the 
effect of a constituent concentration has on particular aquatic species 
and/or human health.

[[Page 79177]]

    Section 304(a)(1) of the Clean Water Act requires the EPA to 
develop and publish and, from time to time, revise, criteria for water 
quality accurately reflecting the latest scientific knowledge. Water 
quality criteria developed under section 304(a) are based solely on 
data and scientific judgments on the relationship between pollutant 
concentrations and environmental and human health effects. Section 
304(a) criteria do not reflect consideration of economic impacts or the 
technological feasibility of meeting pollutant concentrations in 
ambient water.
    Section 304(a) criteria provide guidance to States and authorized 
Tribes in adopting water quality standards that ultimately provide a 
basis for controlling discharges or releases of pollutants. The 
criteria also provide guidance to the EPA when promulgating federal 
regulations under section 303(c) when such action is necessary. Under 
the CWA and its implementing regulations, States and authorized Tribes 
are to adopt water quality criteria to protect designated uses (e.g., 
aquatic life, recreational use). The EPA's water quality criteria 
recommendations are not regulations. Thus, the EPA's recommended 
criteria do not constitute legally binding requirements. States and 
authorized Tribes may adopt other scientifically defensible water 
quality criteria that differ from these recommendations. When adopting 
new or revised water quality standards, the States and authorized 
Tribes must adopt criteria that are scientifically defensible and 
protective of the designated uses of the bodies of water. States have 
the flexibility to do this by adopting criteria based on (1) EPA's 
recommended criteria, (2) EPA's criteria modified to reflect site-
specific conditions, or (3) other scientifically defensible methods.

II. What are the recreational water quality criteria recommendations?

    The EPA is today publishing the draft Recreational Water Quality 
Criteria (EPA-OW-2011-0466-0002) recommendations for protecting human 
health. The EPA evaluated the available data and determined that the 
designated use of primary contact recreation would be protected if the 
following criteria were adopted into water quality standards:

(a) Fresh Water Criteria

    Magnitude: Culturable E. coli at a geometric mean (GM) of 126 
colony forming units (cfu) per 100 milliliters (mL) and a statistical 
threshold value (STV) of 235 cfu per 100 mL measured using EPA Method 
1603, or any other equivalent method that measures culturable E. coli; 
culturable enterococci at a GM of 33 cfu per 100 mL and an STV of 61 
cfu per 100 mL measured using EPA Method 1600, or any other equivalent 
method that measures culturable enterococci; or both of the above 
criteria.
    Duration: For calculating the GM and associated STV, EPA recommends 
a duration between 30 days and 90 days. The duration for calculating 
the GM and associated STV should not exceed 90 days. The duration is a 
component of a water quality criterion, and as such, would need to be 
explicitly included in the State's WQS. The recreational season may 
vary by location depending on the length of the beach season. Sampling 
of waterbodies should be representative of meteorological conditions 
(e.g., wet and dry weather) for the recreational season.
    Frequency: EPA recommends a frequency of zero exceedances of the GM 
and <= 25 percent exceedance of the STV, during the recreation duration 
specified. The frequency of exceedance is a component of a water 
quality criterion, and as such, would need to be explicitly included in 
State's water quality standard (WQS).

(b) Marine Criteria

    Magnitude: Culturable enterococci at a GM of 35 cfu per 100 mL and 
an STV of 104 cfu per 100 mL measured using EPA Method 1600, or any 
other equivalent method that measures culturable enterococci.
    Duration: For calculating the GM and associated STV, EPA recommends 
a duration between 30 days and 90 days. The duration for calculating 
the GM and associated STV should not exceed 90 days. The duration is a 
component of a water quality criterion, and as such, would need to be 
explicitly included in the State's WQS. The recreational season may 
vary by location depending on the length of the beach season. Sampling 
of waterbodies should be representative of meteorological conditions 
(e.g., wet and dry weather) for the recreational season.
    Frequency: EPA recommends a frequency of zero exceedances of the GM 
and <= 25 percent exceedance of the STV, during the recreation duration 
specified. The frequency of exceedance is a component of a water 
quality criterion, and as such, would need to be explicitly included in 
State's WQS.
    EPA has also developed a quantitative polymerase chain reaction 
(qPCR) method to detect and quantify enterococci more rapidly than the 
culture method. For the purposes of beach monitoring, alternative site-
specific criteria could be adopted into State standards measured by 
EPA's Enterococcus qPCR method A based on a site-specific performance 
characterization. For States interested in adopting a value for 
enterococci using EPA's Enterococcus qPCR method A into their WQS, EPA 
recommends a GM criterion of 475 calibrator cell equivalent (CCE) per 
100 mL and an STV criterion of 1,000 CCE per 100 mL in freshwaters and 
marine waters based on its epidemiological study data.

    Dated: December 15, 2011.
Nancy K. Stoner,
Acting Assistant Administrator for Water.
[FR Doc. 2011-32651 Filed 12-20-11; 8:45 am]
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