North Carolina updates its water quality standards for first time since 2007

Monday, May 2, 2016 - 12:00 am

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality recently received a letter from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that commends the department for completing the State of North Carolina’s 2007-2015 Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards and for its “continued efforts in environmental protection for the State of North Carolina.” The triennial review is a federal requirement that requires states to review their water quality standards every three years. This is the first triennial review North Carolina has completed since 2007.

EPA approved the majority of the new and revised water quality standards included in the triennial review package and commended the department for “bringing them up-to-date with long overdue changes.” The new and revised water quality standards approved by EPA are now the applicable water quality standards for all purposes under federal law. The changes disapproved by EPA will be referred back to North Carolina’s environmental rulemaking body, the N.C. Environmental Management Commission (EMC), for further action.

States are required under federal law to review their water quality standards and classifications every three years and to make any modifications necessary to protect the waters of the state. During this process, known as a triennial review, state environmental staff review current EPA guidelines, scientific data, and public comments and make recommendations for any changes of the water quality standards to the EMC. Following a stakeholder comment period, public hearings, and fiscal analysis, and upon approval by the EMC, the triennial review package proceeds to the North Carolina Rules Review Commission for final approval and adoption into state rule. The triennial review package is then submitted to the EPA for federal approval.

Click here to read the letter.