Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters


The water quality standards provisions of section 303 of the Clean Water Act establish one of the basic mechanisms by which restrictions can be placed on the discharge of pollutants to the nation’s waters. This article discusses the history of the water quality standards program, and the role and structure of water quality standards under the Clean Water Act. Although nominally established by states, water quality standards are subject to review and approval by the Environmental Protection Agency. The article specifically addresses EPA policies that establish minimum requirements for approval of state water quality standards. Among other things, the article discusses issues associated with federal provisions establishing 1) the so-called “fishable/swimmable” minimum designated use and justifications of “downgrading” this use, 2) complex “anti-degradation” requirements for state water quality standards, and 3) requirements for state justification of specific criteria values.

Publication Title

Vanderbilt Law Review

Document Type




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