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Antidegradation Reviews – Water Quality

The central goals of the Clean Water Act and the Utah Water Quality Act are to protect, maintain, and restore the quality of Utah’s waters. One way in which this is accomplished is through Utah’s water quality standards, which consist of:

  • designated uses (e.g., aquatic life, drinking water, recreation)
  • water quality criteria (both numeric and narrative)
  • antidegradation policy

Antidegradation Subworkgroup

Antidegradation Policy and Procedures

The intent of the antidegradation component of our standards is to protect existing uses and to maintain high-quality waters. Our water quality criteria create a floor below which uses become impaired, whereas our antidegradation policy protects water quality in waters where the quality is already better than the criteria.

Utah’s antidegradation policy (UAC R317-2-3) does not prohibit degradation of water quality unless the Water Quality Board has previously considered the water to be of exceptional recreational or ecological significance (Category 1 or Category 2 waters). Instead the policy creates a series of rules that together ensure that when degradation of water quality is necessary for social and economic development, every feasible option to minimize degradation is implemented. Also, the policy requires that alternative management options and the environmental and socioeconomic benefits of proposed projects are made available to concerned stakeholders.

Utah’s Division of Water Quality is required by Federal Code (40 CFR §131.12(a)) to develop an antidegradation policy and implementation procedures. The implementation procedures are were developed in a collaborative process with the Water Quality Standards Workgroup to identify procedures that would meet the intent of antidegradation rules, while minimizing unnecessary regulatory burdens.

For additional information, contact Nicholas von Stackelberg (nvonstackelberg@utah.gov): (801) 536-4374

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