Antidegradation is a tool used to protect the water quality in the State of Alaska. Antidegradation implementation is the method or process for determining whether and to what extent the water quality may be lowered.
The Federal Clean Water Act requires states to have an anti-degradation policy and implementation methods. Federal regulation at 40 CFR 131.12 specifies States must have an antidegration policy that:
- Protects existing uses
- Authorizes the lowering of water quality in high quality waters, where necessary for social or economic importance
- Provides mechanism to provide additional protection for water of exceptional ecological or recreational significance. These are often called Outstanding National Resource Waters or ONRWs.
Alaska's current antidegradation policy, adopted in 1997, is found in the Water Quality Standards regulations at 18 AAC 70.015. EPA approved Alaska's policy with the stipulation that Alaska write implementation guidance. DEC adopted interim implementation methods in July 2010, but has yet to develop and adopt final implementation procedures.
History of Antidegradation
DEC began its recent antidegradation efforts in 2008 with a contractor produced report that outlined several options for the State to develop antidegradation implementation guidance and policy. Then in 2009, DEC hosted a public workshop on antidegradation issues. The purpose of the conference was to inform policy makers, wastewater discharge permittees, permit writers and interested public regarding options for implementation procedures. From information gathered in the workshop DEC formulated and adopted the Interim Antidegradation Implementation Methods in 2010. In 2012, DEC assembled a stakeholder workgroup, comprised of representatives from state resource agencies, industry and non-governmental sources, to evaluate options and to provide recommendations on various core elements for the final antidegradation implementation methods to be developed by DEC. In January 2013, the workgroup completed a final report that highlights key issues and makes recommendations for drafting new antidegradation implementation regulations.
Where We Are Now
The DEC Division of Water is no longer accepting public comments on the Draft Antidegradation Implementation Method regulations. The 90 day public comment period closed on Wednesday April 16, 2014 at 4:30 pm. Comments must have been received no later than 4:30 pm on April 16, 2014 to be considered.
If you have questions on the proposed regulations please contact Earl.Crapps@alaska.gov.