Environmental Protection

EPA Rejects Iowa's Designated Use Changes for 93 Waterbodies

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ (IDNR) designated use changes for 64 waterbodies and disapproved changes for 93 waterbodies.

Designated uses describe the achievable recreational activities and aquatic life uses in Iowa’s waters. EPA is finalizing action on the remaining 19 waterbodies.

The Clean Water Act (CWA) presumes that all waters are suitable for the highest levels of recreation, such as swimming, and that the waters can support a diverse community of aquatic life. A state must present a well-documented study to set a lower goal. EPA found that the studies submitted by IDNR did not support a lower designated use for the 93 disapprovals.

CWA establishes a mandatory role for EPA to review and approve or disapprove all state water quality standards. IDNR submitted new and revised Iowa surface water quality standards to EPA for review and approval, as required by the law. This submission updates the use designations for many of the state’s waters following site-specific field studies to determine the highest attainable use for the individual waters.

EPA’s June 29 decision letter provides a more detailed description of EPA’s review and the basis for this action. The decision letter is available at www.epa.gov/region07/news_events/legal.

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