The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released an ecological assessment that rates the overall water quality in U.S. coastal waters and the Great Lakes as “fair.” Issued April 23, 2012, by EPA’s Office of Research and Development, the assessment was prepared in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey, along with state, territorial and tribal agencies.  

According to the report, data collected using nationally consistent monitoring surveys were used to evaluate coastal conditions in each U.S. region for water quality, the ability to support and maintain organisms, sediment quality, coastal habitat, and fish-tissue contaminants. The report rated the Southeastern Alaska, American Samoa and Guam regions as good; the West Coast and U.S. Virgin Islands regions as fair to good; the Northeast Coast, Southeast Coast, Gulf Coast, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico regions as fair; and the Great Lakes region as poor. Required by section 305(b) of the Clean Water Act, the assessment is the fourth prepared by EPA on the condition of the nation’s coastal waters and offshore fisheries.