A Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Triennial Review For Water Quality Standards

Federal Regulations 40 CFR 131.20 requires Georgia to review and revise its water quality standards from time to time, but at least once every three years.  Georgia’s water quality standards are set forth in the Rules for Water Quality Control, Chapter 391-3-6, under Rule 391-3-6-.03.  The process to review and revise water quality standards on a 3-year cycle is referred to as the Triennial Review process.

Triennial Review for 2019 *NEW*

Georgia EPD has initiated the 2019 Triennial Review.  A public notice (available here) was distributed on January 7, 2019 and a public hearing will be held on February 26, 2019.  Additional meetings and public hearing(s) for the Triennial Review Process will be held to allow the public further opportunities to provide input.

EPD is accepting initial comments to be considered in rule changes under the 2019 Triennial Review process through March 8, 2019. Written comments may be sent to EPD.Comments@dnr.ga.gov subject: “Water Quality Standards 2019 Triennial Review” or mailed attention: Elizabeth Booth, Environmental Protection Division, Watershed Protection Branch, Watershed Planning & Monitoring Program, Suite 1152 East, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr., Atlanta, GA 30334.

Triennial Review for 2016 

Georgia EPD initiated the 2016 Triennial Review process in early 2016.  A public notice was distributed on January 6, 2016 and a public hearing was held on February 26, 2016.  EPD received comments at this hearing and continued to receive input on proposed revisions until the end of the comment period, which ended on May 25, 2018.  Under the 2016 Triennial Review process, EPD proposed amendments to Georgia’s water quality standards to accomplish the following:

  • Clarify the antidegradation rule, and define “practicable alternatives”;
  • Explicitly incorporate the use of schedules of compliance in NPDES permits;
  • Clarify the definition for “estuarine waters”, and update associated references;
  • Include pH in the definition of “natural conditions”;
  • Adopt EPA’s 2016 recommended aquatic life cadmium criteria;
  • Adopt bacteria criteria for the protection of secondary contact recreation;
  • Revise the units for bacteria measurements to a non-method specific count;
  • Revise/correct specific water use classifications;
  • Develop site-specific lake standards that include numeric chlorophyll and nutrient criteria for Lakes Oconee and Sinclair;
  • Remove paragraph (18) regarding the “Effective Date” of the rule; and
  • Correct various formatting, typos and grammatical errors.

A final public hearing was held on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.  This meeting provided the public a final opportunity to comment upon and offer input on the proposed rule amendments.

  • The public notice, proposed rule amendments, and the synopsis and statement of rationale is available here.
  • EPA’s updates to national water quality standards regulation can be found here.  EPA’s updates include amendments to the Federal antidegradation provisions and a provision authorizing the use of permit based compliance schedules in water quality standards.  Those provisions informed two items in the proposed rule amendments: the clarification of the antidegradation rule and the explicit incorporation of schedules of compliance in NPDES permits.  Other items included in EPA’s updates are already addressed in Georgia’s water quality standards.
  • Information regarding EPA’s Recommended 2016 Cadmium criteria for the protection of aquatic life can be found here.
  • Supporting documentation for the adoption of bacteria criteria for the protection of secondary contact recreation uses in waters designated as Fishing and Drinking Water is found in EPA’s “Implementation Guidance for Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Bacteria” (Draft 2002), which can be viewed here.
  • The supporting technical document “Lakes Oconee and Sinclair: Proposed Criteria Technical Support Document” describing the development of the site-specific lake standards that include numeric chlorophyll a and nutrient criteria for Lakes Oconee and Sinclair is available for viewing here.

EPD submitted the 2016 Triennial Review package on December 6, 2018 and is awaiting approval of these rule changes.