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9VAC25-260-10. Designation of uses.

A. All state waters, including wetlands, are designated for the following uses: recreational uses, e.g., swimming and boating; the propagation and growth of a balanced, indigenous population of aquatic life, including game fish, which might reasonably be expected to inhabit them; wildlife; and the production of edible and marketable natural resources, e.g., fish and shellfish.

B. Subcategories of the propagation and growth of a balanced indigenous population of aquatic life, including game fish designated use for waters in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries are listed in this subsection.

1. Migratory Fish Spawning and Nursery Designated Use: waters in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries that protect the survival, growth and propagation of the early life stages of a balanced, indigenous population of anadromous, semi-anadromous, catadromous and tidal-fresh resident fish species inhabiting spawning and nursery grounds. This designated use extends from the end of tidal waters to the downriver end of spawning and nursery habitats that have been determined through a composite of all targeted anadromous and semi-anadromous fish species' spawning and nursery habitats (see boundaries in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2004, Technical Support Document for Identification of Chesapeake Bay Designated Uses and Attainability 2004 Addendum, Chesapeake Bay Program Office, Annapolis, Maryland). This designated use extends horizontally from the shoreline of the body of water to the adjacent shoreline, and extends down through the water column to the bottom water-sediment interface. This use applies February 1 through May 31 and applies in addition to the open-water use described in this subsection.

2. Shallow-water Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Designated Use: waters in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries that support the survival, growth and propagation of submerged aquatic vegetation (rooted, underwater bay grasses). This use applies April 1 through October 31 in tidal-fresh, oligohaline and mesohaline Chesapeake Bay Program segments, and March 1 through November 30 in polyhaline Chesapeake Bay Program segments and applies in addition to the open-water use described in this subsection.

3. Open Water Aquatic Life Designated Use: waters in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries that protect the survival, growth and propagation of a balanced, indigenous population of aquatic life inhabiting open-water habitats. This designated use applies year-round but the vertical boundaries change seasonally. October 1 through May 31, the open water aquatic life use extends horizontally from the shoreline at mean low water, to the adjacent shoreline, and extending through the water column to the bottom water-sediment interface. June 1 through September 30, if a pycnocline is present and, in combination with bottom bathymetry and water column circulation patterns, presents a barrier to oxygen replenishment of deeper waters, this designated use extends down into the water column only as far as the upper boundary of the pycnocline. June 1 through September 30, if a pycnocline is present but other physical circulation patterns (such as influx of oxygen rich oceanic bottom waters) provide for oxygen replenishment of deeper waters, the open-water aquatic life designated use extends down into the bottom water-sediment interface (see boundaries in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2004 Technical Support Document for Identification of Chesapeake Bay Designated Uses and Attainability 2004 Addendum, Chesapeake Bay Program Office, Annapolis, Maryland). This designated use includes the migratory fish spawning and nursery and shallow-water submerged aquatic vegetation uses.

4. Deep Water Aquatic Life Designated Use: waters in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries that protect the survival and growth of a balanced, indigenous population of aquatic life inhabiting deep-water habitats. This designated use extends to the tidally influenced waters located between the upper and lower boundaries of the pycnocline where, in combination with bottom bathymetry and water circulation patterns, a pycnocline is present and presents a barrier to oxygen replenishment of deeper waters. In some areas, the deep-water designated use extends from the upper boundary of the pycnocline down to the bottom water-sediment interface (see boundaries in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2004 Technical Support Document for Identification of Chesapeake Bay Designated Uses and Attainability 2004 Addendum, Chesapeake Bay Program Office, Annapolis, Maryland). This use applies June 1 through September 30.

5. Deep Channel Seasonal Refuge Designated Use: waters in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries that protect the survival of a balanced, indigenous population of benthic infauna and epifauna inhabiting deep-channel habitats. This designated use extends to the tidally influenced waters at depths greater than the lower boundary of the pycnocline in areas where, in combination with bottom bathymetry and water circulation patterns, the pycnocline presents a barrier to oxygen replenishment of deeper waters (see boundaries in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2004 Technical Support Document for Identification of Chesapeake Bay Designated Uses and Attainability 2004 Addendum, Chesapeake Bay Program Office, Annapolis, Maryland). This use applies June 1 through September 30.

C. In designating uses of a water body and the appropriate criteria for those uses, the board shall take into consideration the water quality standards of downstream waters and shall ensure that its water quality standards provide for the attainment and maintenance of the water quality standards of downstream waters.

D. The board may adopt subcategories of a use and set the appropriate criteria to reflect varying needs of such subcategories of uses, for instance, to differentiate between cold water (trout streams) and warm water fisheries.

E. At a minimum, uses are deemed attainable if they can be achieved by the imposition of effluent limits required under 301(b)(1)(A) and (B) and 306 of the Clean Water Act and cost-effective and reasonable best management practices for nonpoint source control.

F. Prior to adding or removing any use, or establishing subcategories of a use, the board shall provide notice and an opportunity for a public hearing under the Administrative Process Act ( 2.2-4000 et seq. of the Code of Virginia).

G. The board may adopt seasonal uses as an alternative to reclassifying a water body or segment thereof to uses requiring less stringent water quality criteria. If seasonal uses are adopted, water quality criteria should be adjusted to reflect the seasonal uses; however, such criteria shall not preclude the attainment and maintenance of a more protective use in another season.

H. The board may remove a designated use which is not an existing use, or establish subcategories of a use, if the board can demonstrate that attaining the designated use is not feasible because:

1. Naturally occurring pollutant concentrations prevent the attainment of the use;

2. Natural, ephemeral, intermittent or low flow conditions or water levels prevent the attainment of the use unless these conditions may be compensated for by the discharge of sufficient volume of effluent discharges without violating state water conservation requirements to enable uses to be met;

3. Human caused conditions or sources of pollution prevent the attainment of the use and cannot be remedied or would cause more environmental damage to correct than to leave in place;

4. Dams, diversions or other types of hydrologic modifications preclude the attainment of the use, and it is not feasible to restore the water body to its original condition or to operate such modification in a way that would result in the attainment of the use;

5. Physical conditions related to the natural features of the water body, such as the lack of a proper substrate, cover, flow, depth, pools, riffles, and the like, unrelated to water quality, preclude attainment of aquatic life protection uses; or

6. Controls more stringent than those required by 301(b) and 306 of the Clean Water Act would result in substantial and widespread economic and social impact.

I. The board may not remove designated uses if:

1. They are existing uses, unless a use requiring more stringent criteria is added; or

2. Such uses will be attained by implementing effluent limits required under 301(b)(1)(A) and (B) and 306 of the Clean Water Act and by implementing cost-effective and reasonable best management practices for nonpoint source control.

J. Where existing water quality standards specify designated uses less than those which are presently being attained, the board shall revise its standards to reflect the uses actually being attained.

K. The board must conduct a use attainability analysis whenever:

1. The board designates or has designated uses that do not include the uses specified in 101(a)(2) of the Clean Water Act; or

2. The board wishes to remove a designated use that is specified in 101(a)(2) of the Clean Water Act or to adopt subcategories of uses specified in 101(a)(2) of the Clean Water Act which require less stringent criteria.

L. The board is not required to conduct a use attainability analysis under this chapter whenever designating uses which include those specified in subsection A of this section.

Statutory Authority

62.1-44.15 of the Code of Virginia; 33 USC 1251 et seq. of the federal Clean Water Act; 40 CFR Part 131.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR680-21-01.1, eff. May 20, 1992; amended, Virginia Register Volume 14, Issue 4, eff. December 10, 1997; Volume 20, Issue 9, eff. February 12, 2004; Volume 21, Issue 23, eff. June 24, 2005; Volume 26, Issue 12, eff. February 1, 2010.


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