Use Attainability Analyses and Site Specific Criteria are used to ensure that designated uses or criteria are appropriate for a given waterbody. If a state is removing a designated aquatic life or recreational (“fishable, swimmable") use from a waterbody, or adding designated uses to a waterbody that do not include aquatic life or recreational uses, it must develop a use attainability analysis. This is a structured scientific assessment of the factors affecting the attainment of aquatic life and recreational uses. The factors to be considered include physical, chemical, biological and economic factors, which are described in federal regulations found at 40 CFR 131.10(g). If a state finds that a designated use is not attainable through a UAA, it must adopt the highest attainable use, which is the modified aquatic life, wildlife or recreation use, and associated criteria, that are closest to the use that is being removed and is attainable, based on the findings of the use attainability analysis.
Oregon water quality standards include provisions for developing site-specific criteria for water quality standards for temperature (see OAR 340-041-0028(13) ) and toxic substances (see OAR 340-041-0033(5)). Any adoption of site-specific criteria must also be consistent with federal provisions at 40 CFR 131.10.
Oregon State Fish & Aquatic Life Use Designations
On Nov. 16, 2023, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission adopted amendments to the Fish and Aquatic Life Use designations for Oregon. They are beneficial use designations that determine where and when the different criteria for the temperature and dissolved oxygen standards apply to protect sensitive fish and other species in Oregon's waters.
Oregon's new Fish and Aquatic Life Use rules were submitted to U.S. EPA Region 10 for review on Feb. 5, 2024. The submittal included the Use Attainability Analysis and all other federal requirements. This process will include Endangered Species Act consultation with the federal fisheries services before it is completed. The amended rules will not become applicable for Clean Water Act purposes until approved by EPA.
For more information, please visit the Rulemaking page: Fish and Aquatic Life Use Updates Rulemaking (2023)
Water Quality Standards revision for West Division Main Canal near Hermiston, Oregon
The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission adopted new water quality standards for the West Division Main Canal near Hermiston, in northeastern Oregon, at their meeting on April 26, 2012. The rule corrects previous standards, establishing designated beneficial uses and associated water quality criteria that are appropriate for and feasibly attainable in the canal.
On Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, EPA partially approved and partially disapproved the revised standards for Canal. Only the standards changes approved by EPA are effective.