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Journal of Water and Health In Press, Uncorrected Proof © IWA Publishing 2011  |  doi:10.2166/wh.2011.156

New USEPA water quality criteria by 2012: GOMA concerns and recommendations

Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA), Water Quality Priority Issue Team, GOMA Pathogens Workgroup Writing Team: Janet Gooch-Moore, Kelly D. Goodwin, Carol Dorsey, R. D. Ellender, Joanna B. Mott, Mark Ornelas, Chris Sinigalliano, Bob Vincent, David Whiting and Steven H. Wolfe

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, Center for Coastal Environmental Health & Biomolecular Research, Charleston, SC 29412, USA. E-mail: janet.moore@noaa.gov
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Ocean Chemistry Division, Miami, FL 33149, USA and Stationed at the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, CA, USA
Mobile Division Laboratory, Alabama Department of Public Health, Mobile, AL 36608, USA
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS 39406, USA
Department of Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, TX 78412, USA
Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Mobile, AL 36608, USA
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories, Ocean Chemistry Division, Miami, FL 33149, USA
Bureau of Water Programs, Florida Department of Health, Tallahassee, FL 32399, USA
Bureau of Laboratories, Biology Section, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Tallahassee, FL 32399, USA
Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Tallahassee, FL 32399, USA

First received 30 September 2010; accepted in revised form 15 April 2011. Available online 1 August 2011


ABSTRACT

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) was tasked by the five Gulf State Governors to identify major issues affecting the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) and to set priorities for ameliorating these problems. One priority identified by GOMA is the need to improve detection methods for water quality indicators, pathogens and microbial source tracking. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is tasked with revising water quality criteria by 2012; however, the locations traditionally studied by the USEPA are not representative of the GoM and this has raised concern about whether or not the new criteria will be appropriate. This paper outlines a number of concerns, including deadlines associated with the USEPA Consent Decree, which may prevent inclusion of research needed to produce a well-developed set of methods and criteria appropriate for all regulated waters. GOMA makes several recommendations including ensuring that criteria formulation use data that include GoM-specific conditions (e.g. lower bather density, nonpoint sources), that rapid-testing methods be feasible and adequately controlled, and that USEPA maintains investments in water quality research once the new criteria are promulgated in order to assure that outstanding scientific questions are addressed and that scientifically defensible criteria are achieved for the GoM and other regulated waterbodies.

Keywords: EPA water quality criteria; epidemiology; fecal indicators; Gulf of Mexico; pathogens; recreational waters


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