EPA is taking final action to amend the federal regulations to withdraw certain human health and aquatic life water quality criteria applicable to waters of New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and California’s San Francisco Bay. In 1992, EPA promulgated the National Toxics Rule or NTR to establish numeric water quality criteria for 12 states and two Territories, including New Jersey, Puerto Rico and parts of California. On May 18, 2000, EPA then promulgated a final rule known as the California Toxics Rule or CTR in order to establish numeric water quality criteria for priority toxic pollutants for the State of California that were not previously in the NTR. These two states and one territory have now adopted, and EPA has approved, water quality criteria for certain pollutants included in the NTR.

Because California, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico now have water quality standards that meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act, EPA has determined that the federally promulgated criteria are no longer needed for these pollutants. Therefore EPA is proposing to amend the federal regulations to withdraw those certain criteria applicable to California, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico. The withdrawal of the federally promulgated criteria will enable New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and California to implement their EPA-approved water quality criteria. This final rule is effective on June 3, 2013.

The water quality criteria subject to this action address both freshwater and marine standards and cover a wide range of priority pollutants, including:

  • Metals (e.g, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver, zinc)
  • Organic chemicals (e.g., chlorodibromomethane, 1,1-dichloroethylene, 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane, 1,1,2-trichloroethane
  • PAHs (e.g., benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(b)flouranthene, chrysene, fluorene
  • PCBs
  • Pesticides
  • Others

EPA has proposed to withdraw only one federal water quality criteria for California – the saltwater aquatic life cyanide criteria for San Francisco Bay. Other criteria for cyanide for waters in California that are currently part of the NTR or CTR will remain unchanged in the federal regulations.

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