Friday, February 3, 2012

Georgia EPD Decision On Ocean Acidification Impairment

One of several issued addressed by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) in its draft 303(d) listing (“impaired waters list”) for 2012 was related to ocean acidification. EPD received a letter from the Center for Biological Diversity in 2011 that requested EPD to list the oceans off of the Coast of Georgia as being impaired for pH.

As background, U.S. EPA released a memo on November 15, 2010 that provided the States with information and guidance in regards to ocean acidification and State water quality reporting. According to EPA, States should list waters that are not meeting water quality standards (including marine pH) on their 303(d) lists. The memo also acknowledged that information to support listings for ocean acidification may be absent or limited in many states. EPA provided a list of potential data sources for States to examine in making their listing determinations.

In January 2011, EPD requested water quality data and information to be used in the development of Georgia’s draft 2012 305(b)/303(d) List of Waters. No data were provided that demonstrated that the ocean waters off of Georgia’s coast are impaired for low pH based on Georgia’s pH criteria. All available pH data were collected in tidal streams, not in the ocean, which are addressed under the Georgia instream water quality criteria. Therefore, EPD determined that no data were provided that indicated that oceans off of the Coast of Georgia were impaired for pH.

Caltha LLP provides expert consulting services to public and private sector clients in Georgia and nationwide to address water quality standards, wastewater permitting and assessing potential impacts of chemicals in the aquatic environment.

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