Wetlands and CWA Programs Other Than §404

AuthorMargaret 'Peggy' Strand/Lowell Rothschild
Page 153
Chapter 8
Wetlands and CWA Programs Other Than §404
While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
(the Corps) administers much of §404,
EPA has sole federal authority to admin-
ister the remainder of the CWA.1 Congress directed
EPA to develop “comprehensive programs for pre-
venting, reducing, or eliminating the pollution of
the navigable waters and groundwaters and improv-
ing the sa nitary condition of surface and under-
ground waters.”2 Such comprehensive programs are
required to realize the Act’s lofty and oft-repeated
objective “to restore a nd maintain the chemical,
physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s
waters.”3 Accordingly, EPA administers a number
of CWA programs, other than §404, that involve
protection of wetlands as part of its comprehensive
approach to attaining CWA goals.
I. Wetlands and Water Quality
Section 303 of t he CWA establishes the water qual-
ity program.4 is is a technically and legally com-
plex program that is only briey summarized here.
Water qua lity standards consist of t hree parts: qual-
ity goals for a water body established based on its
uses, criteria to protect t hose uses, and provisions
to protect water quality from pollutants. Subject
to EPA oversight and review, states have the initial
and primary role in setting water quality standards.
Each state decides how to categorize its water
bodies, including how to separate appropriate
segments of strea ms and rivers, and determine
designated uses for those water body segments.
Designated uses include recreation, water supply,
aquatic habitat, or agriculture. e state then sets
water quality criteria to protect the designated use.
e water quality criteria may be numeric pollutant
concentrations, narrative requirements, or both.
States must also have an antidegradation policy to
maintain and protect ex isting uses and high qua l-
ity water bodies.5 Implementation of water quality
standards— converting the criteria into enforce-
able limits on pollution discharge—involves ma ny
technical matters, including low ows, variances,
mixing zones, and other matters.
Once established, water quality standards are
included as limitations or restrictions in discharge
permits. Numeric standards for particu lar pol-
lutants may be expressed as total maximum daily
loads (TMDLs), which reect the total amount of
a pollutant that a receiving water can accept while
still meeting its water quality standard. Once a
TMDL has been established, permits establish
discharge limitations based on an allocation of the
pollutant load among individual dischargers.
Water quality standards can be established for
wetlands. EPA issued a 1990 National Guidance,
Water Quality Standards for Wetlands, which
is Appendix B to Chapter 2—General Program
Guidance of the Water Quality Standards Hand-
book, December, 1983.6 is guidance provides
advice on how states may obtain EPA approval for
water quality standards for wetlands:
e basic requirements for applying state water
quality standa rds to wetlands include:
Including wetland s in the denition of “State
• Designating use s for all wetlands.
5. See 40 C.F.R. §131.12 for federal antidegradation policy.
6. Available at http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/regs/quality.

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