Owens Spearheads Water Quality Bill

WASHINGTON – Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-04) introduced the Water Quality Criteria Development and Transparency Act, legislation to establish more transparent procedures for the development of water quality criteria by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) often used for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, which would provide for additional public participation and limited judicial review. 

“The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) water quality criteria development for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits lacks transparency and often ignores stakeholder input,” said Rep. Owens. “The Water Quality Criteria Development and Transparency Act tackles that issue by ensuring that outside comments are not just heard but legitimately considered, fostering a collaborative approach to water quality management. Employers in Utah’s Fourth District and across the nation deserve a say and a seat at the decision-making table. I’m proud to be a champion for this commonsense, transformative step towards a cleaner and more participatory future for our water resources.”

The EPA develops recommended water quality criteria under CWA Section 304(a), which are used by many states in carrying out their NPDES permitting responsibilities.  Given the importance of water quality criteria development, this bill ensures that outside comments are legitimately considered in the development of these guidelines, and that Section 304(a) water quality criteria are subject to Administrative Procedures Act notice and comment rulemaking requirements and limited judicial review, ensuring regulated entities have a seat at the table and water quality is protected.

The full legislative text is available here.

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