U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Sep 24, 2023
(a) Each State must specify appropriate water uses to be achieved and protected. The classification of the waters of the State must take into consideration the use and value of water for public water supplies, protection and propagation of fish, shellfish and wildlife, recreation in and on the water, agricultural, industrial, and other purposes including navigation. If adopting new or revised designated uses other than the uses specified in section 101(a)(2) of the Act, or removing designated uses, States must submit documentation justifying how their consideration of the use and value of water for those uses listed in this paragraph appropriately supports the State's action. A use attainability analysis may be used to satisfy this requirement. In no case shall a State adopt waste transport or waste assimilation as a designated use for any waters of the United States.
(b) In designating uses of a water body and the appropriate criteria for those uses, the State shall take into consideration the water quality standards of downstream waters and shall ensure that its water quality standards provide for the attainment and maintenance of the water quality standards of downstream waters.
(c) States may adopt sub-categories of a use and set the appropriate criteria to reflect varying needs of such sub-categories of uses, for instance, to differentiate between cold water and warm water fisheries.
(d) At a minimum, uses are deemed attainable if they can be achieved by the imposition of effluent limits required under sections 301(b) and 306 of the Act and cost-effective and reasonable best management practices for nonpoint source control.
(f) States may adopt seasonal uses as an alternative to reclassifying a water body or segment thereof to uses requiring less stringent water quality criteria. If seasonal uses are adopted, water quality criteria should be adjusted to reflect the seasonal uses, however, such criteria shall not preclude the attainment and maintenance of a more protective use in another season.
(g) States may designate a use, or remove a use that is not an existing use, if the State conducts a use attainability analysis as specified in paragraph (j) of this section that demonstrates attaining the use is not feasible because of one of the six factors in this paragraph. If a State adopts a new or revised water quality standard based on a required use attainability analysis, the State shall also adopt the highest attainable use, as defined in § 131.3(m).
(1) Naturally occurring pollutant concentrations prevent the attainment of the use; or
(2) Natural, ephemeral, intermittent or low flow conditions or water levels prevent the attainment of the use, unless these conditions may be compensated for by the discharge of sufficient volume of effluent discharges without violating State water conservation requirements to enable uses to be met; or
(3) Human caused conditions or sources of pollution prevent the attainment of the use and cannot be remedied or would cause more environmental damage to correct than to leave in place; or
(4) Dams, diversions or other types of hydrologic modifications preclude the attainment of the use, and it is not feasible to restore the water body to its original condition or to operate such modification in a way that would result in the attainment of the use; or
(5) Physical conditions related to the natural features of the water body, such as the lack of a proper substrate, cover, flow, depth, pools, riffles, and the like, unrelated to water quality, preclude attainment of aquatic life protection uses; or
(6) Controls more stringent than those required by sections 301(b) and 306 of the Act would result in substantial and widespread economic and social impact.
(h) States may not remove designated uses if:
(1) They are existing uses, as defined in § 131.3, unless a use requiring more stringent criteria is added; or
(2) Such uses will be attained by implementing effluent limits required under sections 301(b) and 306 of the Act and by implementing cost-effective and reasonable best management practices for nonpoint source control.
(i) Where existing water quality standards specify designated uses less than those which are presently being attained, the State shall revise its standards to reflect the uses actually being attained.
(j) A State must conduct a use attainability analysis as described in § 131.3(g), and paragraph (g) of this section, whenever:
(1) The State designates for the first time, or has previously designated for a water body, uses that do not include the uses specified in section 101(a)(2) of the Act; or
(2) The State wishes to remove a designated use that is specified in section 101(a)(2) of the Act, to remove a sub-category of such a use, or to designate a sub-category of such a use that requires criteria less stringent than previously applicable.
(k) A State is not required to conduct a use attainability analysis whenever:
(1) The State designates for the first time, or has previously designated for a water body, uses that include the uses specified in section 101(a)(2) of the Act; or
(2) The State designates a sub-category of a use specified in section 101(a)(2) of the Act that requires criteria at least as stringent as previously applicable; or
(3) The State wishes to remove or revise a designated use that is a non-101(a)(2) use. In this instance, as required by paragraph (a) of this section, the State must submit documentation justifying how its consideration of the use and value of water for those uses listed in paragraph (a) appropriately supports the State's action, which may be satisfied through a use attainability analysis.