Every three years the State is required by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act) to review its surface water quality standards and classifications to determine if changes are needed and, if necessary, to make those changes. The Clean Water Act also requires review of existing variances to surface water quality standards. This review process is called the "Triennial Review." What immediately follows is information pertinent to the current Triennial Review; past Triennial Review documents can be found at the bottom of this page.
North Carolina’s surface water quality standards (15A 2B .0100 and .0200) (click here to download) were carefully reviewed to assure full compliance with Clean Water Act requirements and to ensure protection of North Carolina’s fresh and salt waters. Staff monitored US EPA websites and Federal Register notices for toxicological updates to chemical parameters that could be found in NC waters. Standards for dissolved metals, chlorophyll a, and 2,4 D are proposed for modification during the Triennial Review 2008-2010 process.
Division of Water Quality Planning Staff presented proposed amendments to the Water Quality Committee of the Environmental Management Commission (EMC) on January 13, 2010. Staff requested permission to proceed to the EMC to request permission to hold public hearings on these proposed rule amendments. The Water Quality Committee approved the motion to proceed to the EMC in accordance with State and Federal requirements. On March 11, 2010, staff presented the proposed rule amendments to the full EMC and requested permission to hold public hearings on the proposals. The EMC approved the motion to proceed to public hearings with the proposed rules.
Public hearings for the proposed rules may not be held until a fiscal analysis detailing estimated impacts from these proposals is completed by the Division of Water Quality and approved by the Office of State Budget Management. Division staff are currently requesting cost and benefit information from potentially affected parties in order to facilitate this process. This request from Division staff for information on the fiscal impacts of the proposed rules can be found through the following link:
The Division has also assembled some tools and guidance documents meant to aid affected parties in determining the potential fiscal impacts of the proposed rules. The following links provide information for point source and stormwater permit holders as well as for pretreatment programs. Staff contact information can also be found through these links.
PLEASE NOTE: The deadline for submission of information for inclusion in the Division’s fiscal analysis is September 7, 2010.
Proposed modifications to the chlorophyll a standard include (1) clarification to the frequency of exceedence component and (2) addition of a regional specific standard for mountain and upper piedmont waters which are defined by 15A NCAC 02B .0202.
Portions of the proposed language for fresh and salt waters are as follows:
(.) classified trout waters: not greater than 10% of data shall exceed 15 ug/L;
(.) mountain and upper piedmont waters, defined by 15A NCAC 02B .0202: not greater than 10% of data shall exceed 25 ug/L;
(.) all other fresh surface waters: not greater than 10% of data shall exceed 40 ug/L;
(.) not greater than 10% percent of data from any portion of sounds, estuaries and other waters subject to growths of macroscopic or microscopic vegetation shall exceed 40 ug/L.
Note: Additional information with respect to these proposals is located on the "Surface Water Standards" page.
Information with respect to chlorophyll a proposed revisions may be obtained from Nikki Remington at (919) 807-6413, or by e-mail to Nikki.Remington@ncdenr.gov.
The US EPA Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) has information with respect to the non-carcinogenic effects of 2, 4 D. North Carolina is proposing to revise the human health standard applicable to water supplies, currently 100 ug/L, to include this toxicity information. Incorporation of the new information results in a reduction in the water supply standard to 70 ug/L.
No numeric revisions to concentrations are proposed at the present time.
In January of 2001, the US EPA published revised national criteria for methyl mercury concentrations in fish tissue. Because mercury bioaccumulates in the aquatic environment, the US EPA believes that measurement of fish tissue concentrations may be a better indicator for the protection of people who consume fish and shellfish. This criterion marks EPA's first issuance of a water quality criterion expressed as a fish and shellfish tissue value rather than as an ambient water column value. Assessing compliance with this new and revised fish tissue criterion required the US EPA to investigate and publish guidance on the implementation. This guidance was issued in January of 2009. Under new executive administration, a White House memo has placed all recently published guidance under Executive review. North Carolina will continue to monitor EPA's website for appropriate updates to Mercury for use in a future Triennial Review. Links to additional information: http://www.epa.gov/ost/criteria/methylmercury/document.html
No numeric revisions to concentrations are proposed at this time.
The US EPA is revising its NRWQC for selenium that is anticipated to be expressed as a fish tissue concentration rather than a water concentration. Like Mercury, the EPA is also developing guidance on how to implement this fish tissue criterion within the framework of traditional water quality management programs. EPA expected to re-propose the revised selenium criteria as a draft for scientific views in 2009, with final criteria anticipated in 2010. Once published, NC will review the criteria and the accompanying implementation guidance for potential revisions to its standards.
IRIS updated information relating to the non-cancer effects of Acrolein in June of 2003. To date, the US EPA has not revised the NRWQC to reflect this revised toxicity information. North Carolina does not currently have any permittees with known discharge of this chemical. Staff has determined that no immediate need exists for this chemical to be added to the regulations.
On July 8th, 2004, the US EPA notified the public in the Federal Register (69 FR 41262) of intent to re-evaluate the current aquatic life criteria for ammonia in response to recent studies suggesting that some freshwater mussel species may be more sensitive to ammonia exposure than the aquatic organisms considered in deriving the existing National ammonia criteria. To date, EPA has not made any final decisions on what to do about the ammonia criteria, and will not do so until all issues, questions and new scientific information is explored. North Carolina will continue to review publications as they become available.
The State is currently reviewing activities by the US EPA and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Science Advisory Panel (FIFRA SAP) toward potential addition of a standard for Atrazine. EPA has not released draft Atrazine criteria for public review. North Carolina will continue to monitor the development of revised criteria for application within the State and make recommendations during future Triennial Review updates.
Staff of the Division of Water Quality maintains on-going contact with EPA Region IV staff for updates that may affect freshwater and saltwater recreational bacteria standards. EPA is conducting research and criteria support studies within both the Office of Research and Development and the Office of Water. These activities will allow EPA to build a strong scientific foundation for up-to-date recreational water quality criteria, which EPA estimates it will publish in 2012. The new or revised criteria will replace the current criteria recommendations issued in 1986. The criteria are designed to protect people from illness associated with fecal contamination in water. No revisions to inland freshwater or saltwater bacterial standards are proposed for this Triennial Review timeframe.
The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) published a document entitled “Scientific Review of Cyanide Ecotoxicology and Evaluation of Ambient Water Quality Criteria” in 2007. It provides a recalculation of the cyanide water quality criteria for the protection of aquatic life originally derived in EPA’s 1984 document “Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Cyanide”. Staff received questions from the Commonwealth of Virginia staff about the potential for revisions to the NC standards using the information in the WERF document. Staff used the WERF document’s freshwater and saltwater criteria and recalculated protective levels using a data set more specific to North Carolina. North Carolina’s current 2B cyanide standards are in line with WERF’s recalculated criteria, as well as the EPA’s current nationally recommended criteria. No changes are recommended at this time.
Currently, North Carolina has a narrative standard for phenolic compounds. Due to the odor/taste issues associated with phenol, permits are issued using 300 ug/L, the NRWQC for organoleptic effects. IRIS updated toxicity information with respect to the non-carcinogenic effects of phenol in 2002. The US EPA published, by Federal Register notice, revised NRWQC for human health protection to reflect this information on June 10, 2009. NC’s current approach, control of chemical contaminants causing unpleasant taste and odor in both fish and water supplies, is more stringent than the health effects of the chemical upon ingestion. North Carolina does not recommend any changes to the existing narrative standard for phenol.
IRIS updated toxicity information with respect to the non-carcinogenic effects of Toluene in 2005. To date, the US EPA has not updated its NRWQC for human health protection to reflect this information. North Carolina’s current water quality standards for the protection of freshwater aquatic life (11 ug/L) and protection of trout (0.36 ug/L) are protective of both aquatic life and human health, as aquatic life is more sensitive to the effects of toluene than are humans. North Carolina does not recommend any changes to the existing NC water quality standards for toluene.
1. North Carolina Register notification, Public Hearings and 60 day Comment Period
2. Review of comments received; Hearing Officers prepare response to comments and prepare report for EMC
3. Hearing Officer’s Report and recommendation to EMC. Pending approval by EMC to adopt proposed rule, rules submitted to Office of Administrative Hearings, Rules Review Commission (RRC).
4. Rule reviewed by the RRC.
5. Submittal of revisions to US EPA; US Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species Consultation; Request federal approval of revised NC water quality standards
The Division of Water Quality, on behalf of the Environmental Management Commission, welcomes all comments related to these proposals.
Please e-mail your name, affiliation, address, telephone number and comments to Connie.Brower@ncdenr.gov. Written comments may be submitted to the following address:
ATTN Connie Brower
DWQ PLANNING SECTION
N.C. DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENT & NATURAL RESOURCES
1617 MAIL SERVICE CENTER
RALEIGH NC 27699-1617
Last Updated: June 16, 2010