United States
 Environmental Protection
                                                   Office of Water  EPA - 823-F-01 -003
                                                   Mail code 4305T     January   2001
          Policy  Guidance:  Water Quality Standards
                   and the Endangered Species Act
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
Fish and Wildlife Service, and National
Marine Fisheries Service published in the
Federal Register a Memorandum of
Agreement (MOA) describing procedures for
enhancing coordination regarding the
protection of endangered and threatened
species under section 7 of the Endangered
Species Act and the Clean Water Act's Water
Quality Standards and National Pollution
Discharge Elimination System programs.

The agreement has been made because EPA
and the Services believe that a national
statement detailing how these programs
protect an important component of the aquatic
environment, i.e., endangered and threatened
species, will help achieve the complimentary
goals of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the
Endangered Species Act (ESA). In recent
years, EPA and the Services have increased
their efforts to achieve greater integration of
CWA and ESA programs. A coordinated
national approach to these efforts would help
ensure protection for listed species, provide
greater regulatory predictability, and make
ESA consultations more timely and efficient.

The MOA is a procedural document that
discusses how EPA and the Services intend to
exercise our existing statutory and regulatory
authorities in a coordinated manner. It does
not propose to alter, expand or substitute for
any applicable legal requirements.

Federal Authority
The MOA describes how EPA and the
Services intend to exercise existing statutory
and regulatory authority in Section 7 of the
Endangered Species Act, and in Sections 303
and 402 of the Clean Water Act.
                            On January 15, 1999, EPA and the Services
                            published a draft MOA to enhance
                            coordination between the agencies (See 64
                            Fed. Reg. 2742). In this final MOA, EPA and
                            the Services have considered the public
                            comments submitted on the draft MOA, and
                            made appropriate revisions. Today's Federal
                            Register notice addresses the major themes
                            and concerns raised by the public comments,
                            summarizes the changes we have made, and
                            publishes the final MOA.

                            Summary of the MOA
                            The MOA contains four basic parts:

                            1. National procedures for inter-agency
                            coordination and elevation of issues to speed

                            2. National consultation on existing water
                            quality criteria for aquatic species, and a
                            national research and data gathering plan;

                            3. Improved consultation procedures for EPA
                            approval of State and Tribal water quality
                            standards; and

                            4. Procedures for coordination with regard to
                            State and Tribal NPDES permits.

                            These four parts are discussed below.

                            The MOA directs EPA and the Services to
                            establish local/regional review teams that
                            identify upcoming priorities and workload
                            requirements and generally ensure close
                            coordination on the full range of activities
                            involving water quality and endangered/
                            threatened species protection, and includes a
                            procedure for elevating issues that may arise
                            among regional and field offices, including

formal or informal consultations and EPA
oversight of State/Tribal NPDES permits.

The MOA also provides for national
consultations on the water quality criteria
EPA has published under section 304(a) of the
CWA for the protection of aquatic life and a
joint national research and data gathering plan
for prioritizing and funding research on the
effect of water pollution on listed species.

In addition, the MOA provides guidance to
regional and field offices regarding section 7
consultations on EPA's approval of new or
revised water quality standards and addresses
the procedures that EPA and the Services will
follow in overseeing the operation of
State/Tribal NPDES permits to ensure that
listed species and critical habitats are
protected. Further, the MOA establishes a
framework for coordinating actions by EPA
and the Services for EPA review of permits
issued by States or Tribes with approved
permitting programs as well as EPA issuance
of permits under section 402 of the CWA. The
final MOA does not contain the national
programmatic NPDES consultation that was
in the 1999 draft MOA.

Additional Information
EPA is issuing a Federal Register notice of
availability for the final MOA, which further
discusses the content of the MOA and
summarizes changes from the  1999 draft
MOA. See the full text of the Federal
Register notice. For additional information,
contact Brian Thompson. Office of Science
and Technology, U.S. EPA, 1200
Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC,
20460 (telephone: 202-566-0382); Margaret
Lorenz, Endangered Species Division,
National Marine Fisheries Services (telephone
301-713-1401); or Mary Henry, Division of
Environmental Contaminants,  Fish and
Wildlife Service (telephone 703-358-2148).