Water Quality

EQC approves revisions to the water quality standards for bacteria and clarification of associated uses

On Aug. 17, 2016, the Environmental Quality Commission approved revisions to Oregon’s water quality standards for bacteria to protect people who recreate in coastal waters. EPA approved the revised standards under the Clean Water Act on Nov. 17, 2017. Exposure to high levels of bacteria from swimming and other full immersion water contact recreation is associated with increased gastrointestinal illness.
In addition to revising the bacteria criteria for coastal recreation waters, the rules clarify where freshwater and coastal recreation and shellfish harvesting uses occur in coastal estuaries and, therefore, where the different bacteria criteria (E. coli, enterococcus, or fecal coliform) apply.

For additional information, see the following documents:

The Oregon Health Authority’s Oregon Beach Monitoring Program simultaneously engaged in a process to adopt a bacteria level that it will use to issue beach advisories. This Beach Action Value is not part of Oregon’s regulatory water quality standards under the Clean Water Act. More information about the BAV adoption is available on OBMP’s webpage.

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For more information about this rulemaking contact Aron Borok by phone at 503-229-5050 (toll-free in Oregon at 800-452-4011, ext. 5050).

For information about OHA’s process to adopt a beach advisory value, contact Tara Chetock, Oregon Beach Monitoring Program coordinator, Portland, by phone at 971-673-1496 (toll-free 877-290-6767).