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U.S. EPA approves California’s list of 686 polluted waters; Agency proposes adding 28 more to list for clean water plans


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has approved California State Water Resources Control Board’s list of 686 water bodies in the state that do not meet water quality standards.

The list – known as the federal Clean Water Act Section 303(d) list – includes bays, estuaries, portions of the ocean, lakes, streams and rivers. The 303(d) list is used by federal, state, and local agencies to set priorities for development of pollution controls and restoration of polluted waters.

The U.S. EPA’s action on this case followed an earlier approval of the state’s submitted list of 686 impaired waters. In this action, the U.S .EPA is adding 36 waters to the along with additional pollutants for 34 waters already listed by the state, as data indicates pollution problems in those waters.

“We agree with the state’s findings that many of California’s best-known waters still have pollution problems, including San Francisco Bay, the Sacramento River, Lake Tahoe, Salton Sea and southern California beaches,” said Alexis Strauss, Water Division director in the U.S. EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “There are some additional bays and streams, and some other pollutants, which also merit our combined attention. Many of the waters we propose to add are beaches impaired by high bacteria.”

The U.S. EPA is starting a 30-day public comment period during which interested parties are invited to submit written comments on these additions. After considering the public comments received, U.S. EPA will make any necessary adjustments to its decision and transmit the final list to the state.

The list guides the State’s development of water pollution control plans, called Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), for each water and pollutant of concern. TMDLs are assessments of pollution sources in a given watershed, together with estimates of the maximum amount of each pollutant a water body can absorb without compromising beneficial uses such as drinking water and recreation.

California continues to develop TMDL plans to address high priority pollution problems in more than 100 streams, rivers, and coastal waters including:

San Francisco Bay PCBs,
Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta mercury,
Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor toxic pollutants,
Squaw Creek sediment,
Newport Bay DDT and PCBs, and
several southern California beaches for bacteria.

TMDLs guide the implementation of regulatory and voluntary efforts to clean up polluted waterways. U.S. EPA is working with California’s state and regional water quality control boards to develop TMDLs. More than 100 TMDL efforts are currently underway throughout California, and more than 350 TMDLs have already been completed by the state and EPA, including:

Shasta River dissolved oxygen and temperature,
Tomales Bay bacteria,
San Luis Obispo Creek nitrogen,
Pajaro River sediment,
Cache Creek, Bear Creek, Harley Gulch mercury
Ballona Creek watershed bacteria
Calleguas Creek metals and selenium, and
Middle Santa Ana River bacteria.

The state’s list of impaired water is available at

U.S. EPA welcomes comments from the public regarding additions to the California list of impaired waters. Written comments will be accepted on or before April 13..

U.S. EPA’s proposed additions will be available on the Internet by March 16th at


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