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EPA Approves Addition of Kenai River to Alaska’s List of Impaired Waters, Places Exxon Valdez Waters Decision on Hold


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is partially approving Alaska’s official list of “impaired waters.” Alaska added two waters to the list: Lower Kenai River and Big Lake for petroleum hydrocarbon pollution.

Alaska also removed Red Dog and Ikalukrok Creeks from the impaired list as now attaining water quality standards and moved four waters (Ward Cove, Campbell Creek, Campbell Lake and Cabin Creek) to category 4 of the integrated report: “impaired waterbodies with waterbody recovery plans.”

EPA supports Alaska’s decision to list the lower Kenai River and Big Lake as impaired for petroleum hydrocarbons and to initiate recovery for these waterbodies. EPA also supports the State’s decision on Red Dog and Ikalukrok Creek and the other waters.

EPA is deferring final action on Alaska’s decision not to include the Exxon Valdez waters (specifically the intertidal zones) on its 2006 303(d) list.

According to Mike Gearheard, EPA Water Office Director, the deferral process allows the Agency to take a closer look at Alaska’s proposed action for these waters and see how realistic the goals are.

“Without proof of dedicated funding directed towards restoration planning and implementation, we can’t be sure that Alaska will be able to show sufficient progress towards restoring impaired beaches in a reasonable period of time,” Gearheard said. “EPA needs additional time to evaluate the water quality status of the areas affected by the Exxon Valdez before deciding whether these waters belong on the state impaired waters list.”

In accordance with Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act, states must identify all polluted waterbodies and submit this list to EPA every two years. These are “water quality limited” estuaries, lakes, and streams that fall short of state surface water quality standards. These standards are the criteria to ensure our waters support the beneficial uses we all enjoy, from fishing, swimming, boating, and drinking to industrial and agricultural purposes, and fish habitat.


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