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 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 that meeting and has continued to receive input on proposed revisions to Georgia's water quality standards since that time.  Under the 2016 Triennial Review process, EPD proposes 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 Public Hearing will be held on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at the EPD Training Center located at 4244 International Parkway, Suite 116, Atlanta, Georgia 30354.  This meeting is to provide the public an opportunity to comment upon and provide input on the proposed rule amendments.

  • The public notice, proposed rule amendments, and the synopsis and statement of rationale is available 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.
  • 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.

EPD is accepting comments on the proposed rule changes under the 2016 Triennial Review process through May 25, 2018.  Written comments may be sent to EPDComments@dnr.ga.gov or mailed to: Elizabeth Booth, Watershed Planning and Monitoring Program, 2 MLK Jr. Drive, SW, Suite 1152, East Tower, Atlanta, Georgia, 30334.  Please include the words “Water Quality Standards Triennial Review” in the subject line or your email or letter to help ensure that your comments will be forwarded to the correct staff.