SUBCHAPTER 2B ‑ SURFACE WATER AND WETLAND STANDARDS

 

SECTION .0100 ‑ PROCEDURES FOR ASSIGNMENT OF WATER QUALITY STANDARDS

 

 

15A NCAC 02B .0101       GENERAL PROCEDURES

(a)  The rules contained in Sections .0100, .0200 and .0300 of this Subchapter which pertain to the series of classifications and water quality standards shall be known as the "Classifications and Water Quality Standards Applicable to the Surface Waters and Wetlands of North Carolina."

(b)  The Environmental Management Commission, prior to classifying and assigning standards of water quality to any waters of the state, shall proceed as follows:

(1)           The Commission, or its designee, shall determine waters to be studied for the purpose of classification and assignment of water quality standards on the basis of user requests, petitions, or the identification of existing or attainable water uses, as defined by 15A NCAC 2B .0202, not presently included in the water classification.

(2)           After appropriate studies of the identified waters to obtain the data and information required for determining the proper classification of the waters or segments of water are completed, the Commission, or its designee, shall make a decision on whether to initiate proceedings to modify the classifications and water quality standards of identified waters.  In the case of the Commission's designee deciding to initiate said proceedings, the designee shall inform the Commission of the decision prior to scheduling a public hearing.

(3)           In the case of a petition for classification and assignment of water quality standards according to the requirements of General Statute 150B‑20, the Director shall make a preliminary recommendation on the appropriate classifications and water quality standards of the identified waters on the basis of the study findings or information included in the petition supporting the classification and standards changes.

(4)           The Commission shall make a decision on whether to grant or deny a petition in accordance with the provisions of General Statute 150B‑20 based on the information included in the petition and the recommendation of the Director.  The Commission may deny the petition and request that the Division study the appropriate classifications and water quality standards for the petitioned waters in accordance with Subparagraph (b)(2) of this Rule.

(5)           The Director shall give due notice of such hearing or hearings in accordance with the requirements of General Statute 143‑214.1 and G.S. 150B, and shall appoint a hearing officer(s) in consultation with the chairman of the Commission.

(6)           The hearing officer(s) shall, as soon as practicable after the completion of the hearing, submit a complete report of the proceedings of the hearing to the Commission.  The hearing officer(s) shall include in the report a transcript or summary of testimony presented at such public hearing, relevant exhibits, a summary of relevant information from the stream studies conducted by the technical staff of the Commission, and final recommendations as to classification of the designated waters and the standards of water quality and best management practices which should be applied to the classifications recommended.

(7)           The Commission, after due consideration of the hearing records and the final recommendations of the hearing officer(s), shall adopt its final action with respect to the assignment of classifications, and any applicable standards or best management practices applicable to the waters under consideration.  The Commission shall publish such action, together with the effective date for the application of the provisions of General Statute 143‑215.1 and 143‑215.2, as amended, as a part of the Commission's official rules.

(8)           The final action of the Commission with respect to the assignment of classification with its accompanying standards and best management practices shall contain the Commission's conclusions relative to the various factors given in General Statute 143‑214.1(d), and shall specifically include the class or classes to which such specifically designated waters in the watershed or watersheds shall be assigned on the basis of best usage in the interest of the public.

(c)  Freshwater shall be assigned to one of the following classification:

(1)           Class C:  freshwaters protected for secondary recreation, fishing, aquatic life including propagation and survival, and wildlife.  All freshwaters shall be classified to protect these uses at a minimum.

(2)           Class B:  freshwaters protected for primary recreation which includes swimming on a frequent or organized basis and all Class C uses.

(3)           Class WS-I:  waters protected as water supplies which are essentially in natural and undeveloped watersheds.  Point source discharges of treated wastewater are permitted pursuant to Rules .0104 and .0211 of this Subchapter.  Local programs to control nonpoint sources and stormwater discharges of pollution are required.  Suitable for all Class C uses.

(4)           Class WS-II:  waters protected as water supplies which are generally in predominantly undeveloped watersheds.  Point source discharges of treated wastewater are permitted pursuant to Rules .0104 and .0211 of this Subchapter.  Local programs to control nonpoint sources and stormwater discharges of pollution shall be required.  Suitable for all Class C uses.

(5)           Class WS-III:  waters protected as water supplies which are generally in low to moderately developed watersheds.  Point source discharges of treated wastewater are permitted pursuant to Rules .0104 and .0211 of this Subchapter.  Local programs to control nonpoint sources and stormwater discharges of pollution shall be required.  Suitable for all Class C uses.

(6)           Class WS-IV:  waters protected as water supplies which are generally in moderately to highly developed watersheds.  Point source discharges of treated wastewater are permitted pursuant to Rules .0104 and .0211 of this Subchapter.  Local programs to control nonpoint sources and stormwater discharges of pollution shall be required; suitable for all Class C uses.

(7)           Class WS-V:  waters protected as water supplies which are generally upstream of and draining to Class WS-IV waters.  No categorical restrictions on watershed development or treated wastewater discharges shall be required.  However, the Commission or its designee may apply appropriate management requirements as deemed necessary for the protection of downstream receiving waters (15A NCAC 2B .0203); suitable for all Class C uses.

(8)           Class WL:  waters that meet the definition of wetlands found in 15A NCAC 2B .0202 except those designated as Class SWL.

(d)  Tidal Salt Waters shall be assigned to one of the following:

(1)           Class SC:  saltwaters protected for secondary recreation, fishing, aquatic life including propagation and survival, and wildlife.  All saltwaters shall be classified to protect these uses at a minimum.

(2)           Class SB:  saltwaters protected for primary recreation which includes swimming on a frequent or organized basis and all Class SC uses.

(3)           Class SA:  suitable for commercial shellfishing and all other tidal saltwater uses.

(4)           Class SWL:  waters that meet the definition of coastal wetlands as defined by 15A NCAC 2H .0205, and which are landward of the mean high water line, and wetlands contiguous to estuarine waters as defined by 15A NCAC 2H .0206.

(e)  The following are supplemental classifications:

(1)           Trout waters (Tr):  freshwaters protected for natural trout propagation and survival of stocked trout.

(2)           Swamp waters (Sw):  waters which have low velocities and other natural characteristics which are different from adjacent streams.

(3)           Nutrient Sensitive Waters (NSW):  waters subject to growths of microscopic or macroscopic vegetation requiring limitations on nutrient inputs.

(4)           Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW):  unique and special waters of exceptional state or national recreational or ecological significance which require special protection to maintain existing uses.

(5)           High Quality Waters (HQW):  waters which are rated as excellent based on biological and physical/chemical characteristics through Division monitoring or special studies, native and special native trout waters (and their tributaries) designated by the Wildlife Resources Commission, primary nursery areas (PNA) designated by the Marine Fisheries Commission and other functional nursery areas designated by the Marine Fisheries Commission, all water supply watersheds which are either classified as WS‑I or WS‑II or those for which a formal petition for reclassification as WS‑I or WS‑II has been received from the appropriate local government and accepted by the Division of Water Quality and all Class SA waters.

(6)           Future Water Supply (FWS):  waters that have been requested by a local government and adopted by the Commission as a future source for drinking, culinary , or food-processing purposes.  Local government(s) requesting this reclassification shall provide to the Division evidence of intent which may include one or a combination of the following: capitol improvement plans, a Water Supply Plan as described in G.S. 143-355(1), bond issuance for the water treatment plant or land acquisition records.  Local governments shall provide a 1:24,000 scale USGS topographical map delineating the location of the intended water supply intake.  Requirements for activities administered by the State of North Carolina, such as the issuance of permits for landfills, NPDES wastewater discharges, land application of residuals and road construction activities shall be effective upon reclassification for future water supply use.  The requirements shall apply to the critical area and balance of the watershed or protected area as appropriate.  Upon receipt of the final approval letter from the Division of Environmental Health for construction of the water treatment plant and water supply intake, the Commission shall initiate rule-making to modify the Future Water Supply supplemental classification.  Local government implementation is not required until 270 days after the Commission has modified the Future Water Supply (FWS) supplemental classification through the rule-making process and notified the affected local government(s) that the appropriate local government land use requirements applicable for the water supply classifications are to be adopted, implemented and submitted to the Commission for approval.  Local governments may also adopt land use ordinances that meet or exceed the state's minimum requirements for water supply watershed protection prior to the end of the 270 day deadline.  The requirements for FWS may also be applied to waters formerly used for drinking water supply use, and currently classified for water supply use, at the request of local government(s) desiring protection of the watershed for future water supply use.

(7)           Unique wetland (UWL):  wetlands of exceptional state or national ecological significance which require special protection to maintain existing uses.  These wetlands may include wetlands that have been documented to the satisfaction of the Commission as habitat essential for the conservation of state or federally listed threatened or endangered species.

(f)  In determining the best usage of waters and assigning classifications of such waters, the Commission shall consider the criteria specified in General Statute 143‑214.1(d) and all existing uses as defined by 15A NCAC 2B .0202.  In determining whether to revise a designated best usage for waters through a revision to the classifications, the Commission shall follow the requirements of 40 CFR 131.10(b),(c),(d) and (g) which are hereby incorporated by reference including any subsequent amendments and editions.  This material is available for inspection at the Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Water Quality, Water Quality Section, 512 North Salisbury Street, Raleigh, North Carolina.  Copies may be obtained from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Superintendent of Documents, Washington, DC 20402‑9325 at a cost of thirteen dollars ($13.00).

(g)  When revising the classification of waters, the Division shall collect water quality data within the watershed for those substances which require more stringent control than required by the existing classification.  However, such sampling may be limited to only those parameters which are of concern.  If the revision to classifications involves the removal of a designated use, the Division shall conduct a use attainability study as required by the provisions of 40 CFR 131.10(j) which are hereby incorporated by reference including any subsequent amendments and editions.  This material is available for inspection at the Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Water Quality, Water Quality Section, 512 North Salisbury Street, Raleigh, North Carolina.  Copies may be obtained from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Superintendent of Documents, Washington, DC 20402‑9325 at a cost of thirteen dollars ($13.00).

 

History Note:        Authority G.S. 143‑214.1; 143‑215.3(a)(1);

Eff. February 1, 1976;

Amended Eff. August 1, 1995; February 1, 1993; August 3, 1992; August 1, 1990;

RRC Objection Eff. July 18, 1996 due to lack of statutory authority and ambiguity;

Amended Eff. October 1, 1996.