United States
Environmental Protection
\r ^1 # ^Agency
Office of Water
EPA 820-F-16-012
December 2016
Fact Sheet: Final Rule on Certain Federal
Water Quality Standards Applicable to
EPA has issued final federal Clean Water Act water
quality standards (WQS) that apply to water bodies
under the state of Maine's jurisdiction. First, EPA has
finalized human health criteria (HHC) to protect the
sustenance fishing designated use in waters in Indian
lands and in waters subject to sustenance fishing
rights under the Maine Implementing Act (MIA). EPA
has finalized six additional WQS for waters in Indian
lands in Maine, two WQS for all waters in Maine
including waters in Indian lands, and one WQS for
waters in Maine outside of Indian lands. These WQS
take into account the best available science,
including local and regional information, as well as
applicable EPA policies, guidance, and legal
requirements, to protect human health and aquatic
Clean Water Act section 101(a)(2) establishes the
national goal that water quality should provide for
the protection and propagation offish, shellfish, and
wildlife, and recreation in and on the water. States
must establish WQS for waters under their
jurisdiction that protect these goals, including
designated uses and criteria to protect the uses. EPA
periodically publishes criteria recommendations
under Clean Water Act section 304(a) for states to
consider using to protect their designated uses.
Until 2015, EPA had never approved any Maine WQS
for waters in Indian lands. In 2014, the state of
Maine sued EPA to make approval or disapproval
decisions on all backlogged WQS. In decisions issued
in February, March, and June 2015, EPA disapproved
a number of Maine WQS as not adequately
protective of human health or aquatic life. Most of
the disapprovals applied only to waters in Indian
lands; however, a few applied to all Maine waters.
The Clean Water Act requires EPA to promptly
promulgate replacement WQS to remedy such
disapprovals unless the state adopts and EPA
approves protective WQS.
If Maine adopts and submits new or revised WQS
that EPA finds meet Clean Water Act requirements,
EPA would withdraw its federal promulgation for
those waters and/or pollutants for which EPA
approves Maine's new or revised standards.
Fish consumption and tribal sustenance
fishing use
There are four federally recognized Indian tribes in
Maine represented by five governing bodies. State
and federal settlement acts that resolved litigation
between Maine and the tribes create a unique
arrangement granting the state of Maine authority
to set WQS for waters in Indian lands. EPA concluded
that the settlement acts provide for sustenance
fishing practices in those waters; that under the
Clean Water Act sustenance fishing is a designated
use; and that criteria must be adequate to protect
that use.

Maine's HHC are based on a fish consumption rate of
32.4 grams per day of fish. The best available
information indicates that the HHC to protect tribal
sustenance fishers in Maine should be based on a
much higher fish consumption rate. Because the
state of Maine has not addressed the WQS
disapprovals stemming from this information, EPA
has finalized federal HHC applicable to waters in
Indian lands and waters outside of Indian lands that
are subject to sustenance fishing rights. EPA has
incorporated a fish consumption rate that
represents a level of fish consumption by the tribes
unsuppressed by pollution concerns as well as new
data and scientific information on exposure and
pollutant toxicity.
Scope of the final rule
EPA has finalized HHC for 96 pollutants that apply to
waters in Indian lands. EPA has finalized six
additional WQS for waters in Indian lands:
	Recreational and shellfishing bacteria criteria to
protect human health
	Tidal temperature, pH, and ammonia criteria to
protect aquatic life;
	A mixing zone policy; and
	Clarification that natural conditions provisions
cannot be applied to HHC.
EPA has finalized two WQS for all waters in Maine
including waters in Indian lands:
	Dissolved oxygen criteria for Class A waters to
protect aquatic life; and
	Clarification that the Clean Water Act does not
allow the commissioner of the Maine
Department of Environmental Protection to
waive compliance with WQS in case of oil spills.
Finally, EPA has finalized one WQS (phenol criteria to
protect human health) for waters in Maine outside
of Indian lands.
EPA disapproved all of these WQS in 2015 because
they were not based on the latest science or
protective of designated uses.
Basis for the human health criteria
EPA derives HHC for non-threshold carcinogens
using the following inputs:
	cancer slope factor;
	cancer risk level;
	body weight;
	drinking water intake rate;
	fish consumption rate; and
	bioaccumulation or bioconcentration factor.
For non-carcinogens and threshold carcinogens, EPA
uses a reference dose in place of a cancer slope
factor and cancer risk level, as well as a relative
source contribution, which is intended to ensure
that an individual's total exposure from all sources
does not exceed the reference dose.
In deriving criteria for waters in Indian lands in
Maine, in general, EPA used the same cancer slope
factors, cancer risk level, body weight, drinking
water intake rate, bioaccumulation factors,
reference doses and relative source contribution
factors that the Agency used in its most recent Clean
Water Act section 304(a) recommended HHC. To
protect tribal sustenance fishers in Maine, EPA
derived the criteria using a fish consumption rate of
286 g/day. This rate accounts for information from
an anthropological/historical study of the tribes'
traditional cultural practices and reflects input from
affected tribes in Maine.
Where can I find more information?
Contact Jennifer Brundage at (202) 566-1265,
brundage.jennifer@epa.gov or Jeanne Voorhees at
(617) 918-1686, voorhees.ieanne@epa.gov.
To access the final rule, federal register notice and
supporting documents, visit EPA's Water Quality
Standards website at: https://www.epa.gov/wqs-