Refining Designated Uses For Mississippi's Surface Waters

Author(s): Caviness-Reardon, K.

Water quality standards are required by the Clean Water Act and include three essential components: (1) designated uses for the water bodies, (2) criteria (either narrative or numeric) to support those uses, and (3) an antidegradation policy. Water quality standards establish the water quality goals for a water body. Designated uses are a critical component of water quality standards because they specify what a specific water body is being used for in order to define the appropriate water quality goals provide a way to evaluate whether or not these goals are being attained. Mississippi currently has a very simple water body classification structure. Within recent years, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has identified the need to examine the current water body classification structure and investigate further refinement of the existing water body classification structure. In 2014, MDEQ completed a preliminary analysis to consider potential options for refinement of the current structure. Further refinement of water use classifications will allow MDEQ to provide a more accurate distinction between water bodies around the state and allow for more appropriate criteria (or goals) to be established for those various water bodies. . Water use classification (or designated use) is the basic foundation of the water quality standards program, and improving the accuracy of water body classifications within Mississippi is a program priority for MDEQ’s Water Quality Standards Program.

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