Presentation Abstract

Washington State’s surface water quality standards set limits on pollution in lakes, rivers, and marine waters in order to protect beneficial uses, such as swimming and fishing. Washington State Department of Ecology has recently announced a rulemaking to update recreational use criteria (RUC). Recreational use criteria are intended to protect human health while enjoying water-related activities. Recreational use criteria are based on bacterial indicators rather than direct measurements of pathogens. Washington’s current bacterial indicator, fecal coliform, was removed from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommendations in 1986. The EPA is now requiring states update their RUC to the new bacterial indicators, Escherichia coli (E. coli) or enterococcus. EPA epidemiological studies have demonstrated that fecal coliform does not correlate with gastrointestinal illnesses and is not a suitable indicator for recreating in waters. Contrarily, E. coli and enterococcus have a strong correlation with swimming-related gastrointestinal illnesses. In marine waters, Washington has adopted a single fecal coliform criterion for shellfish harvesting and primary contact recreation uses. Shellfish harvesting is regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and has a more stringent fecal coliform criterion than contact recreation. To protect for both uses, Washington adopted the more stringent FDA’s fecal coliform criterion for shellfish harvesting and applied it to primary contact recreation. However, with the advent of new bacterial indicators, the shellfish harvesting and the primary contact recreation criterion will become decoupled. Shellfish harvesting will continue using FDA’s fecal coliform based criteria, while contact recreation will be based on enterococcus for marine waters. The objective of this presentation is to discuss the options for RUC for Washington State, implementation of new criteria, and policy outcomes of the rulemaking. Other topics will include determining acceptable levels of risk using bacterial indicators, background risks, and site-specific variability.

Session Title

Policy and Management Challenges for Restoring and Protecting Water Quality in the Salish Sea

Keywords

Human health, Recreation, Water quality

Conference Track

SSE8: Policy, Management, and Regulations

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE8-451

Start Date

5-4-2018 2:00 PM

End Date

5-4-2018 2:15 PM

Type of Presentation

Oral

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

Share

COinS
 
Apr 5th, 2:00 PM Apr 5th, 2:15 PM

Changes to Washington State's recreational use criteria and implications for surface waters

Washington State’s surface water quality standards set limits on pollution in lakes, rivers, and marine waters in order to protect beneficial uses, such as swimming and fishing. Washington State Department of Ecology has recently announced a rulemaking to update recreational use criteria (RUC). Recreational use criteria are intended to protect human health while enjoying water-related activities. Recreational use criteria are based on bacterial indicators rather than direct measurements of pathogens. Washington’s current bacterial indicator, fecal coliform, was removed from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommendations in 1986. The EPA is now requiring states update their RUC to the new bacterial indicators, Escherichia coli (E. coli) or enterococcus. EPA epidemiological studies have demonstrated that fecal coliform does not correlate with gastrointestinal illnesses and is not a suitable indicator for recreating in waters. Contrarily, E. coli and enterococcus have a strong correlation with swimming-related gastrointestinal illnesses. In marine waters, Washington has adopted a single fecal coliform criterion for shellfish harvesting and primary contact recreation uses. Shellfish harvesting is regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and has a more stringent fecal coliform criterion than contact recreation. To protect for both uses, Washington adopted the more stringent FDA’s fecal coliform criterion for shellfish harvesting and applied it to primary contact recreation. However, with the advent of new bacterial indicators, the shellfish harvesting and the primary contact recreation criterion will become decoupled. Shellfish harvesting will continue using FDA’s fecal coliform based criteria, while contact recreation will be based on enterococcus for marine waters. The objective of this presentation is to discuss the options for RUC for Washington State, implementation of new criteria, and policy outcomes of the rulemaking. Other topics will include determining acceptable levels of risk using bacterial indicators, background risks, and site-specific variability.