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E-M:/ EPA Nutrient pollution criteria for wetlands



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[Federal Register: December 14, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 240)]
[Notices]              
[Page 75247-75249]
 From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr14de06-55]                        

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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
[EPA-HQ-OW-2006-0826; FRL-8256-1]

Notice of Availability of Draft Nutrient Criteria Technical
Guidance Manual: Wetlands

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
ACTION: Notice of Availability.

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SUMMARY: EPA announces the availability of a draft nutrient criteria
technical guidance manual for wetlands. This document provides State
and Tribal water quality managers and others with information on how to
develop numeric nutrient criteria for wetlands as State or tribal law
or regulation; however, the document does not contain site-specific
numeric nutrient criteria. EPA is soliciting information, data, and
views on issues of science pertaining to the information the Agency
used to develop this document. While this document contains EPA's
scientific recommendations regarding defensible approaches for
developing regional nutrient criteria, this guidance does not
substitute for Clean Water Act (CWA) or EPA regulations, nor is it a
regulation. It does not impose legally binding requirements on the EPA,
States, territories, authorized tribes, or the regulated community.
State and tribal decision makers have discretion to adopt water quality
standards that use approaches that differ from EPA's recommendations.

DATES: Scientific views, data, and information should be submitted by
February 12, 2007.

ADDRESSES: You may submit scientific information, data, or views,
identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2006-0826, by one of the
following methods:
    ?  <A HREF="http://www.regulations.gov";>http://www.regulations.gov</A> Follow the on-line
instructions for submitting information.
    ?  E-mail: <A HREF="mailto:ow-docket@epa.gov";>ow-docket@epa.gov</A>.
    ?  Mail: Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail
code: 4101T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460. Please
include a total of four copies.

[[Page 75248]]

    ?  Hand Delivery: EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC), EPA West, Room
3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460. Please include
a total of four copies. Such deliveries are only accepted during the
Docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be
made for deliveries of boxed information.
    Instructions: Direct your scientific information, data, or views,
to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2006-0826. EPA's policy is that all
information received will be included in the public docket without
change and may be made available online at <A HREF="http://www.regulations.gov";>http://www.regulations.gov</A>,
including any personal information provided, unless it includes
information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or
other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not
submit information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected
through <A HREF="http://www.regulations.gov";>http://www.regulations.gov</A> or <A HREF="mailto:ow-docket@epa.gov";>ow-docket@epa.gov</A>. The
<A HREF="http://www.regulations.gov";>http://www.regulations.gov</A> Web site is an ``anonymous access'' system, which
means EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you
provide it in the body of your information. If you send an e-mail
directly to EPA without going through <A HREF="http://www.regulations.gov";>http://www.regulations.gov</A> gov your e-mail
address will be automatically captured and included as part of the
information that is placed in the public docket and made available on
the Internet. If you submit information electronically, EPA recommends
that you include your name and other contact information in the body of
your information and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If EPA cannot
read your information due to technical difficulties and cannot contact
you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your
information. Electronic files should avoid the use of special
characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or
viruses. For additional information about EPA's public docket visit the
EPA Docket Center homepage at <A HREF="http://www.epa.gov/epahome/dockets.htm";>http://www.epa.gov/epahome/dockets.htm</A>.

    Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the
<A HREF="http://www.regulations.gov";>http://www.regulations.gov</A> index. Although listed in the index, some
information is not publicly available, e.g., information claimed to be
CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute.
Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, will be publicly
available only in hard copy. Publicly available docket materials are
available either electronically in <A HREF="http://www.regulations.gov";>http://www.regulations.gov</A> or in hard copy
at the Water Docket, EPA/DC, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution
Ave., NW., Washington, DC. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30
a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The
telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the
telephone number for the Water Docket is (202) 566-2426.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Amy Parker, Health and Ecological
Criteria Division (4304T), U.S. EPA, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.,
Washington, DC 20460; phone (202) 566-1341; fax (202) 566-1139; e-mail <A HREF="mailto:
parker.amy@epa.gov">
parker.amy@epa.gov</A>.


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. General Information

A. Does This Action Apply to Me?

    Entities potentially interested in today's notice are those that
discharge or release nitrogen and phosphorus to surface waters, and
Federal, State, tribal, and local authorities that establish water
quality standards for surface water. Categories and entities interested
in today's notice include but are not limited to:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                               Examples of potentially
                 Category                         affected entities
------------------------------------------------------------------------
State/Local/Tribal Government.............  States, municipalities,
                                             tribes.
Industry..................................  Fertilizer manufacturers.
Agriculture...............................  Animal feeding operations,
                                             fertilized row crop
                                             operations.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This table is not intended to be exhaustive. Other types of
entities not listed in the table may also be interested.

B. What Should I Consider as I Prepare My Scientific Information, Data
or Views for EPA?

    1. Submitting CBI. Do not submit CBI information to EPA through
<A HREF="http://www.regulations.gov";>http://www.regulations.gov</A> or e-mail. Clearly identify the specific
information that you claim to be CBI. For CBI information in a disk or
CD ROM that you mail to EPA, mark the outside of the disk or CD ROM as
CBI and then identify electronically within the disk or CD ROM the
specific information that is claimed as CBI). In addition to one
complete version of the comment that includes information claimed as
CBI, a copy of the comment that does not contain the information
claimed as CBI must be submitted for inclusion in the public docket.
Information so marked will not be disclosed except in accordance with
procedures set forth in 40 CFR part 2.
    2. Tips for Preparing Your Information, Data, or Views. When
submitting scientific information, data or views, please remember to:
    ?  Identify the docket number and other identifying
information (subject heading, Federal Register date and page number).
    ?  Explain why you agree or disagree; suggest alternatives
and substitute language for your requested changes.
    ?  Describe any assumptions and provide any technical
information and/or data that you used.
    ?  If you estimate potential costs or burdens, explain how
you arrived at your estimate in sufficient detail to allow for it to be
reproduced.
    ?  Provide specific examples to illustrate your concerns, and
suggest alternatives.
    ?  Explain your views as clearly as possible.
    ?  Make sure to submit your information comments by the
deadline identified.

C. How Can I Get Copies of the Draft Document and Related Information?

    Copies of the complete document entitled Nutrient Criteria
Technical Guidance Manual: Wetlands (EPA-823-B-05-003) may be obtained
from EPA's National Service Center for Environmental Publications
(NSCEP) by phone at (513) 489-8190 or toll free (800) 490-9198, or by
e-mail to <A HREF="mailto:ncepiwo@one.net";>ncepiwo@one.net</A>, or by conventional mail to 11029 Kenwood
Road, Cincinnati, OH 45242. You can also download the document from
EPA's Web site at http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/nutrient.html, or
from the docket.

II. Today's Notice

A. What Are Nutrients and Why Are We Concerned About Them?

    Nutrients, or more specifically, nitrogen and phosphorus, are found
in nature. They are also found in water as a result of anthropogenic
sources including runoff from fertilized agriculture or residential
grounds, municipal wastewater treatment plants, animal farming
practices, and for nitrogen, from atmospheric deposition. Human
activities can increase runoff from the land surface and increase the
input of nutrients into surface waters, including wetlands.
    The addition of plant nutrients stimulates the growth of algae and
other plants which in turn stimulates fish and other organisms in the
food web. When nutrients accumulate in excessive quantities, they can
cause detrimental changes in water quality, in the aquatic

[[Page 75249]]

life that depends on those waters, and in human uses of that water.
This phenomenon is called eutrophication. Eutrophication of United
States surface waters is a long standing-problem. Eutrophication due to
excessive nutrients is one of the top five causes of waterbody
impairment in the U.S., according to information provided by states on
their CWA section 303(d) lists. Chronic symptoms of over-enrichment
include low dissolved oxygen, fish kills, cloudy murky water, and
depletion of desirable flora and fauna.
    Within wetlands chronic symptoms of over-enrichment include low
dissolved oxygen, fish kills, increased sediment accumulation, and
species and abundance shifts of flora and fauna. The problem is
national in scope, but varies in nature from one region of the country
to another due to geographical variations in geology and soil types.

B. What Has EPA Done To Develop Criteria for Nutrients?

    In 1998, EPA published a report entitled ``National Strategy for
the Development of Regional Nutrient Criteria.'' This report outlined a
framework for development of waterbody-specific technical guidance that
can be used to assess nutrient status and develop region-specific
numeric nutrient criteria. We have already released the companion
Nutrient Criteria Technical Guidance Manuals for Rivers and Streams
(2000), Lakes and Reservoirs (2000), and Estuarine and Coastal Marine
Waters (2001). The document presented here is the wetland-specific
technical guidance for developing numeric nutrient criteria.

C. What Is Included in the Draft Guidance?

    The guidance explains how to consider water, vegetation and soil
conditions to develop regionally-based numeric nutrient criteria for
wetland systems. While the manual does not provide specific
recommendations for nutrient criteria, it does give EPA's
recommendations on defensible technical approaches for developing
regional nutrient criteria. This document provides elements considered
important to criteria development including Classification, Sampling
Design and Criteria Development (setting a benchmark).
1. Classification of Wetlands
    Classification strategies for nutrient criteria development can
include physiographic regions, hydrogeomorphic class, water depth and
duration, and/or vegetation type or zone. Choosing a specific
classification scheme will depend on practical considerations, such as:
Whether a classification scheme is available in mapped digital form or
can be readily derived from existing map layers; whether a
hydrogeomorphic or other classification scheme has been refined for a
particular region and wetland type; and whether classification schemes
are already in use for monitoring and assessment of other water body
types in a state or region.
2. Sampling Design
    Three sampling designs for new wetland monitoring programs are
described including: stratified random sampling, targeted/tiered
approach, and BACI (Before/After, Control/Impact). These approaches are
designed to allow one to obtain a significant amount of information for
statistical analyses with relatively minimal effort. Sampling efforts
should be designed to collect information that will answer management
questions in a way that will allow robust statistical analysis. In
addition, site selection, characterization of reference sites or
systems, and identification of appropriate index periods are all of
particular concern when selecting an appropriate sampling design.
Careful selection of sampling design will allow the best use of
financial resources and will result in the collection of high quality
data for evaluation of the wetland resources of a State or Tribe.
3. Criteria Development
    Several methods can be used to develop numeric nutrient criteria
for wetlands; they include but are not limited to three criteria
development methods that are detailed in this document: (1)
Identification of reference systems for each established wetland type
and class based on either best professional judgment (BPJ) or
percentile selections of data plotted as frequency distributions; (2)
refinement of classification systems, use of models, and/or examination
of system biological attributes to assess the relationships among
nutrients, vegetation or algae, soil, and other variables; and (3) use
of published nutrient and vegetation, algal, and soil relationships and
values that may be used (or modified for use) as criteria. A weight of
evidence approach with multiple attributes that combine one or more of
the development approaches will produce criteria of greater scientific
validity.
    Recognizing relationships between nutrient input and wetland
response is the first step in mitigating the effects of cultural
eutrophication. Once relationships are established, nutrient criteria
can be developed to manage nutrient pollution and protect wetlands from
eutrophication.

    Dated: December 7, 2006.
Ephraim King,
Director, Office of Science and Technology.
 [FR Doc. E6-21287 Filed 12-13-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6560-50-P

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