SECTION .0200 ‑ CLASSIFICATIONS AND WATER QUALITY STANDARDS APPLICABLE TO SURFACE WATERS AND WETLANDS OF NORTH CAROLINA

 

15A NCAC 02B .0201       ANTIDEGRADATION POLICY

(a)  It is the policy of the Environmental Management Commission to maintain, protect, and enhance water quality within the State of North Carolina.  Pursuant to this policy, the requirements of 40 CFR 131.12 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).  These requirements shall be implemented in North Carolina as set forth in Paragraphs (b), (c), (d), (e) and (f) of this Rule.

(b)  Existing uses, as defined by Rule .0202 of this Section, and the water quality to protect such uses shall be protected by properly classifying surface waters and having standards sufficient to protect these uses.  In cases where the Commission or its designee determines that an existing use is not included in the classification of waters, a project which shall affect these waters shall not be permitted unless the existing uses are protected.

(c)  The Commission shall consider the present and anticipated usage of waters with quality higher than the standards, including any uses not specified by the assigned classification (such as outstanding national resource waters or waters of exceptional water quality) and shall not allow degradation of the quality of waters with quality higher than the standards below the water quality necessary to maintain existing and anticipated uses of those waters.  Waters with quality higher than the standards are defined by Rule .0202 of this Section.  The following procedures shall be implemented in order to meet these requirements:

(1)           Each applicant for an NPDES permit or NPDES permit expansion to discharge treated waste shall document an effort to consider non‑discharge alterna­tives pursuant to 15A NCAC 2H .0105(c)(2).

(2)           Public Notices for NPDES permits shall list parameters that would be water quality limited and state whether or not the discharge shall use the entire available load capacity of the receiving waters and may cause more stringent water quality based effluent limitations to be established for dischargers downstream.

(3)           The Division may require supplemental documentation from the affected local government that a proposed project or parts of the project are necessary for important economic and social development.

(4)           The Commission and Division shall work with local governments on a voluntary basis to identify and develop appropriate management strategies or classifications for waters with unused pollutant loading capacity to accommodate future economic growth.

Waters with quality higher than the standards shall be identified by the Division on a case‑by‑case basis through the NPDES permitting and waste load allocation processes (pursuant to the provisions of 15A NCAC 2H .0100).  Dischargers affected by the requirements of Paragraphs (c)(1) through (c)(4) of this Rule and the public at large shall be notified according to the provisions described herein, and all other appropriate provisions pursuant to 15A NCAC 2H .0109.  If an applicant objects to the requirements to protect waters with quality higher than the standards and believes degradation is necessary to accommodate important social and economic development, the applicant may contest these requirements according to the provisions of General Statute 143‑215.1(e) and 150B‑23.

(d)  The Commission shall consider the present and anticipated usage of High Quality Waters (HQW), including any uses not specified by the assigned classification (such as outstanding national resource waters or waters of exceptional water quality) and shall not allow degradation of the quality of High Quality Waters below the water quality necessary to maintain existing and anticipated uses of those waters.  High Quality Waters are a subset of waters with quality higher than the standards and are as described by 15A NCAC 2B .0101(e)(5).  The procedures described in Rule .0224 of this Section shall be implemented in order to meet the requirements of this part.

(e)  Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW) are a special subset of High Quality Waters with unique and special characteristics as described in Rule .0225 of this Section.  The water quality of waters classified as ORW shall be maintained such that existing uses, including the outstanding resource values of said Outstanding Resource Waters, shall be maintained and protected.

(f)  Activities regulated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344) which require a water quality certification as described in Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1341) shall be evaluated according to the procedures outlined in 15A NCAC 2H .0500.  Activities which receive a water quality certification pursuant to these procedures shall not be considered to remove existing uses.  The evaluation of permits issued pursuant to G.S. 143-215.1 that involve the assimilation of wastewater or stormwater by wetlands shall incorporate the criteria found in 15A NCAC 2H .0506(c) (1)-(5) in determining the potential impact of the proposed activity on the existing uses of the wetland per 15A NCAC 2H .0231.

 

History Note:        Authority G.S. 143‑214.1; 143‑215.1; 143‑215.3(a)(1);

Eff. February 1, 1976;

Amended Eff. October 1, 1995; August 1, 1995; February 1, 1993; April 1,1991; August 1, 1990;

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

Amended Eff. October 1, 1996.