Under section 303(c)(1) of the Federal Clean Water Act, states are required every three years to review and revise state water quality standards. The Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board (EQB) published a proposed rulemaking on the most recent triennial review in October 2017. Among other changes, the proposed regulation would adopt federally-recommended criteria for ammonia and fecal coliform, and would incorporate EPA’s recommended updates to Table 5 of § 93.8(c), which lists human health and aquatic life criteria for toxic substances. Of the 94 individual criteria recommended by EPA, the EQB proposes to adopt 73, retain 10 that are the same as EPA’s, and add 11 new compounds.

The public comment period for the proposed regulation closed on February 16, 2018. A month later, Pennsylvania’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) submitted its own comments on the proposed rulemaking. IRRC expressed concern over the EQB’s decision to adopt EPA’s national criteria for many of the constituents. IRRC questioned whether a site-specific approach was more appropriate and asked the EQB to compare its approach to that taken by neighboring states. In addition to those specific comments, IRRC requested a more robust fiscal analysis of the financial impact of the proposed rulemaking on the regulated community.

The EQB has two years from the close of the public comment period to prepare a final-form rulemaking and written responses to all comments. That two-year deadline suggests we could see a final regulation in 2019.