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  Water Quality Standards Development and Review Back BWQP Home Page   

  Temperature Water Quality Standards Review - The Bureau of Water Quality Planning of the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) has embarked on an effort to review and update our temperature water quality standards for the protection of aquatic life in Nevada waters. Nevada’s current temperature criteria are not well documented and we need scientifically supported guidance as NDEP reviews temperature standards throughout the state.

Water quality standards define water quality goals of a surface water body by designating beneficial uses of the water and by setting criteria necessary to protect the beneficial uses. Beneficial uses in Nevada include: Watering of livestock, Irrigation, Aquatic life, Recreation involving contact with the water, Recreation not involving contact with the water, Municipal or domestic supply, Industrial supply, Propagation of wildlife, Waters of extraordinary ecological or aesthetic value, and Enhancement of water quality. The Water quality standards for Nevada are contained in the Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) 445A.11704 through 445A.2234.

The NAC contains two types of water quality standards, narrative and numeric. The narrative standards are applicable to all surface waters of the state and consist mostly of statements requiring waters to be "free from" various pollutants including those that are toxic. The numeric standards for conventional pollutants cover most waterbodies in Nevada with waterbody specific numeric standards. These standards include both criteria designed to protect the beneficial uses and antidegradation requirements. The antidegradation is addressed through the establishment of "requirements to maintain existing higher quality" or RMHQs. RMHQs are set when existing water quality (as evidenced by the monitoring data) for individual parameters is higher than the criteria necessary to protect the beneficial uses. This system of directly linking antidegradation to water quality standards provides a manageable means for implementing antidegradation through the permit program and other programs.

Numeric standards for toxics for various beneficial uses can be found in NAC 445A.1236. Nevada relies on EPA criteria when establishing numeric water quality standards for toxics. EPA criteria are derived from laboratory studies of biological organisms' sensitivity to specific chemicals. In these studies, a variety of fish, benthic macro-invertebrates and zooplankton are exposed to known concentrations of a chemical under varying conditions.

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