Standard Analytical Methods Updates

DEC Water Quality Standards (WQS) Staff propose new regulatory language and updated citations to ensure that analytical methods at 18 AAC 70.020, 18 AAC 70.030 and 18 AAC 83.010 are consistent with Clean Water Act (CWA) approved methods in 40 CFR Part 136.

What Will Be Updated?

  1. Revision of fecal coliform criteria for harvesting for consumption use to
    • specify a 30-day sampling period, and
    • allow testing by either membrane filtration or most probable number (MPN) methods.
  2. Updates to notes in the Water Quality Standards table in 18 AAC 70.020(b) for
    • Fecal coliform
    • Radiation
  3. Updates to CWA approved analytical methods adopted by reference in 18 AAC 70.020(c).
  4. Updates to whole effluent toxicity method in 18 AAC 70.030.
  5. Update to Code of Federal Regulation reference (40 CFR Part 136) date at 18 AAC 83.010(f).


EPA 2012 Final Rule: CWA Analytical Methods

Under CWA section 304(h), DEC's clean water programs are required to use EPA-approved analytical methods listed in 40 CFR Part 136 and adopted in state regulations at 18 AAC 70.020(c). EPA issued a final rule with new and revised analytical methods in 2012. The DEC Quality Assurance Officer and WQS section do not consider any of the proposed changes to be controversial or to cause implementation concerns. EPA will review the changes, but approval is not required when adopting CWA-approved analytical methods.

The final EPA rule approves CWA methods published by (1) EPA, (2) voluntary consensus organizations (e.g., American Society for Testing and Materials International and the Standard Methods Committee), and (3) certain commercial entities. The new rule provides additional guidance on quality assurance/quality control requirements and changes to sample collection, preservation, and holding times.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES): Use of Sufficiently Sensitive Test Methods for Permit Applications and Reporting

EPA has modified its regulation for NPDES permit applications, compliance monitoring, and analytical methods in 40 CFR Part 122 and 136. The final rule can be found at National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES): Use of Sufficiently Sensitive Test Methods for Permit Applications and Reporting.

The final rule requires that, where EPA-approved methods exist, NPDES applicants must use sufficiently sensitive EPA-approved analytical methods when quantifying the presence of pollutants in a discharge and that the Director[1] must prescribe only sufficiently sensitive EPA-approved methods be used for analyses of pollutants or pollutant parameters under the permit.

The new federal rule is consistent with longstanding permitting procedures and current Alaska Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (APDES) permits that include the following condition:

"For all effluent monitoring, the permittee must use a test method that can achieve a method detection limit (MDL) less than the effluent limitation. For a parameter without an effluent limitation, the permittee must use the most sensitive MDL from an EPA-approved analytical test necessary for compliance monitoring."

Public Involvement

Public Comment Period is now closed.

DEC Division of Water staff drafted new regulatory language and updated citations to ensure analytical methods at 18 AAC 70.020, 18 AAC 70.030, and 18 AAC 83.010 are consistent with the Clean Water Act approved methods in 40 CFR Part 136. The regulation changes have been posted on this page for formal public comment. You may comment on the proposed regulation changes, including the potential costs to private persons of complying with the proposed changes:

  1. By submitting written comments to Denise Elston, DEC Division of Water, at 410 Willoughby Ave, Suite 303, P.O. Box 11800. Juneau, Alaska 99811. Additionally, the Department of Environmental Conservation will accept comments by facsimile at (907) 465-5274 and by electronic mail at
  2. Comments may also be submitted through the Alaska Online Public Notice System .
  3. Oral or written comments also may be submitted at a hearing to be held on February 25, 2015, in the DEC Main Conference Room, Second Floor, 410 Willoughby Ave. Juneau. The hearing will be held from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. and might be extended to accommodate those present before 6:00 pm. who did not have an opportunity to submit comments previously. Those individuals who cannot attend the public hearing but wish to participate via teleconference may do so by calling (800) 315-6338. Access Code 51851.
  4. The comments must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on March 10, 2015.

Public Question and Answer Opportunities

Public notices are one of many ways DEC can communicate with Alaskans about current activities and invite the public to be part of the discussion about our environmental issues.

If you have a question, please submit your written questions relevant to the proposed action to Denise Elston by electronic mail at or 410 Willoughby Ave, Suite 303, P.O. Box 11800, Juneau, Alaska 99811. The questions must be received at least 10 days before the end of the public comment period. DEC will aggregate its response to substantially similar questions and make the questions and our response available here.

Question: Date Received: Answer:

Accessibility Information

If you are a person with a disability who needs a special accommodation in order to participate in this process, please contact Eric Hotchkiss at (907) 465-6171 no later than February 13, 2015 to ensure that any necessary accommodations can be provided.

Economic Impacts

This regulation update is anticipated to have negligible cost impact on the state and private industry.

[1] "Director" refers to the permitting authority. Per 40 CFR 122.2, "Director" means the Regional Administrator or the state Director, as the context requires, or an authorized representative. When there is no "approved State Program" and there is an EPA-administered program, "Director" means the Regional Administrator. When there is an approved State program, "Director" normally means the State Director. In some circumstances, however, EPA retains the authority to take certain actions even when there is an approved State program.


State of Alaska Resources

For additional information on how to submit a public comment, please see How to Comment on Regulations and The Importance of Public Comments

State of Alaska Online Public Notice Page

WQS email list: Subscribe or Unsubscribe to receive information on upcoming changes to the Water Quality Standards


For more information:

Denise Elston
Environmental Program Specialist
Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation
Division of Water: Water Quality Standards, Assessment & Restoration
Telephone (907) 465-5018