Water quality standards are used to protect the state's surface waters. Standards consist of three parts: designated uses, such as fishing or swimming; numerical or narrative criteria to protect the designated uses; and an antidegradation policy, which maintains existing high quality water that exceeds the criteria. Criteria are established by statute and by administrative rules. Surface waters are routinely sampled to assess compliance with the standards as part of the Surface Water Quality Assessments [305(b) and 303(d)] Program.
The Water Quality Standards Advisory Committee (WQSAC) was established in the fall of 2000 to assist the agency in drafting revised water quality regulations. The purpose of the committee is to facilitate public input, solicit advice and provide a forum for the discussion of focused issues. In addition to the formal membership, all WQSAC meetings are open to the public with full participation in the discussion of issues of interest.