MDE Seeks Input on Water Quality Standards

The Maryland Department of the Environment is seeking input on its water standards, under the federal Clean Water Act.

From a recent MDE bulletin:


The Clean Water Act (CWA) requires that States review their water quality standards (WQS) every three years (Triennial Review) and revise the standards as necessary. A water quality standard consists of three parts:

• Designated Uses that set goals for a water body. Examples are support of aquatic life, drinking water supply or a coldwater fishery such as trout.
• Criteria that support the designated uses – There are numerous criteria for chemical substances, bacteria, acidity and physical characteristics (e.g., temperature). Examples include dissolved oxygen sufficient to support aquatic life or metals in sufficiently low concentrations that they will not interfere with aquatic life.
• Antidegradation policy – Maryland has a policy in place, and updates the list of high quality waters each triennium as needed.

The Maryland water quality standards are found in the Code of Maryland regulations (COMAR) at 26.08.01 – 26.08.02. Maryland regulations may be accessed online at the Division of State Documents web site: Click on COMAR Online and enter the appropriate regulatory reference.

MDE has successfully used the ANPRM process during previous Triennial Reviews. The ANPRM is an informal, non-regulatory tool used to solicit input from stakeholders, prior to initiating the formal rule-making process. This gives stakeholders an opportunity to present recommendations, voice concerns, and provide input to the State’s water quality standards for MDE to consider for amendment and addition.

With this ANPRM, The Maryland Department of the Environment is soliciting public input on its current review of the Water Quality Standards. Issues that the MDE believes should be addressed are presented in the following document for public review. MDE will consider additional issues if the necessary data are available to make the appropriate determination. A subsequent promulgation of new water quality standards may include issues not included in this proposal.

Click here for the ANPRM document – ANPRM

This document is also published in the May 31, 2013 edition of the Maryland Register

County officials with questions or issues on these standards are invited to contact MDE directly or to reach Les Knapp, MACo’s Legal and Policy Counsel.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties