United States                        Office of Water          EPA-823-00-008
Environmental Protection                 4305                April 2000
                   FACT SHEET

                   Water Quality Standards;  Establishment of
                   Numeric Criteria for Priority Toxic Pollutants for
                   the State of California

             The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today promulgated numeric water quality
      criteria for priority toxic pollutants and other water quality standards provisions to be applied to
      waters in the State of California. EPA promulgated this rule based on the Administrator's
      determination that the numeric criteria are necessary in the State of California to protect human
      health and the environment.

             EPA promulgated this rule to fill a gap in California water quality standards that was
      created in 1994 when a State court overturned the State's water quality control plans containing
      water quality criteria for priority toxic pollutants. Thus, the State of California has been without
      numeric water quality criteria for many priority toxic pollutants as required by the Clean Water
      Act, necessitating this action by EPA. These Federal criteria are legally applicable in the State
      of California for inland surface waters, enclosed bays and estuaries for all purposes and
      programs under the Clean Water Act.


             Under section 303(c)(2)(B) of the Clean Water Act, states must adopt numeric criteria for
      the priority toxic pollutants listed under section 307(a) if those pollutants could be reasonably
      expected to interfere with the designated uses of States' waters. In April 1991  California adopted
      numeric criteria for priority toxic pollutants in the State's Inland Surface Water Plans and
      Enclosed Bays and Estuaries Plans.  In 1994, a California State court ordered California to
      rescind these water quality control plans. Today's final rule promulgated numeric water quality
      criteria to replace the criteria that were rescinded by the State court. California also remains in
      the National Toxics Rule promulgated in 1992 for certain waters and pollutants.

      Today's Action

             Today's final rule promulgated 1) ambient aquatic life criteria for 23 priority toxics; 2)
      ambient human health criteria for 57 priority toxics; and 3) a compliance schedule provision
      which authorizes the State to issue schedules of compliance for new or revised NPDES permit
      limits based on the federal criteria when certain conditions are met. The State must use the

criteria together with the State's existing water quality standards when controlling pollution in
inland waters and enclosed bays and estuaries. The numeric water quality criteria contained in
the final rule are identical to EPA's recommended Clean Water Act section 304(a) criteria for
these pollutants published in December 1998 (see 63 FR 68353).

       EPA did not receive any substantive comments during the public comment period which
warranted significant changes to the proposed rule. The CTR will serve as a place holder until
the State re-adopts its own numeric criteria for toxics.  However, as a result of consultation with
the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered
Species Act, EPA did not include the following proposed numeric criteria in the final rule:  acute
and chronic criteria for mercury to protect freshwater and saltwater aquatic life; and acute criteria
for selenium to protect freshwater aquatic life. The final rule also does not contain numeric
criteria for chloroform. For these reasons, EPA's final rule is narrower in scope than the
proposed rule.

Costs and Benefits

       At present, State Basin Plans contain a narrative water quality criterion stating that all
waters shall be maintained free of toxic substances in concentrations that produce detrimental
physiological responses in human, plant, animal, or aquatic life. Thus, to the extent that the State
is implementing the narrative as required by EPA's permitting regulations at 40 CFR 
122.44(d)(l)(vi)/40 CFR  123.25, this rule would not impose any incremental costs.

       In  addition, the ambient water quality criteria in this rule do not directly impose economic
impacts by themselves. The Clean Water Act requires the State to implement the criteria by
ensuring that NPDES permits result in discharges that will meet the criteria.  In so doing, the
State will have considerable discretion.  Until the State implements these water quality standards,
there will be no effect of this rule on any entity.

       Despite the requirement that the State implement its narrative criteria and the
considerable discretion the State has in implementing the federal numeric criteria, EPA
attempted to estimate the potential indirect costs  and benefits of this final rule. The analysis
calculated costs using two approaches. The first approach used existing, actual discharge data.
(Actual discharge levels are usually lower than the level set by current NPDES permit limits.).
Using this approach, annual costs are $33.5 million (up from $15 million for the proposal). The
second approach used a sample of existing permit limits, assuming that dischargers are actually
discharging the full levels contained in their permits.  The second approach also assumes that
none of the discretionary mechanisms that would enhance flexibility (e.g., site specific criteria,
mixing zones,  phased TMDLs) would be granted by the State. Under the second approach,
annual costs are $61 million (down from $87 million for the proposal). EPA refined the
estimated  costs for the final rule based on facility-specific information submitted as part of the
public comments. EPA believes that the second  approach overstates actual costs because it does
not take into account the discretionary mechanisms that are often used, and frequently result in

use of cheaper control technologies.  Further, EPA believes that basing costs on current permit
limits rather than actual discharge data overstates the actual costs to comply with new limits
because most facilities discharge pollutants in concentrations well below current permit limits.

       Total monetized annual benefits were estimated in the range of $6.9 to $74.7 million.  By
category, annual benefits were $1.3 to $4.6 million for avoided cancer risk, $2.2 to $15.2 million
for recreational angling, and $3.4 to $54.9 million for passive use benefits. In addition, EPA
could not put dollar values on several other categories of benefits, such as

       Improvements in water-related (in-stream and near stream) recreation apart from fishing.

       Improvements in consumptive and non-consumptive land-based recreation, such as
       hunting and wildlife observation.

      Improvements in human health resulting from reduction of non-cancer risk.

      Human health benefits for saltwater anglers outside of San Francisco Bay were not

Therefore, the monetized values presented above are likely to underestimate  the full benefits of
the new criteria.

Additional Information

       For more information, please call Diane E. Fleck at 415-744-1984, or Philip Woods at
415-744-1997, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9, Water Division, 75 Hawthorne
Street, San Francisco, California 94105.

       Once the rule is published in the Federal Register, you may view the Federal Register
notice, Response to Comments Document, and the Economic Analysis Document for this final
rule on the Internet at: http://www.epa.gov/OST/rules. The Federal Register notice gives
complete information on how to obtain additional information and how to review the complete
administrative record for this final rule.