(a) It is the policy of the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) that existing water uses and the level of water quality necessary to protect existing uses shall be maintained. Any water quality degradation which would interfere with or become injurious to these existing uses is prohibited. Existing uses are those uses identified in these standards.
(b) Waters whose existing quality exceeds the level necessary to support existing uses shalI not be degraded unless and until the EQC finds, after full satisfaction of the intergovernmental coordinating and public participation provisions contained in the Environmental Quality Act (Title 24, ASCA), that allowing lower water quality is necessary to accommodate important economic or social needs of the Territory. In no event, however, may water quality be degraded to an extent that it would interfere with or become injurious to existing uses.
(c) No further degradation shall be allowed in waters which constitute an outstanding public resource or in waters of exceptional recreational or ecological significance. Waters which receive this protection shall be classified as unique waters by the EQC.
(d) Subject to the provisions of sections (a)-(c) above, the EQC may allow limited degradation upon determining:
(1) the proposed degraded level of water quality will support existing uses;
(2) a compelling economic or social need of the Territory is served by allowing, limited degradation;
(3) the highest practicable statutory and regulatory requirements will be met by existing and new point sources of pollutants; and
(4) all cost-effective and reasonable best management practices for non-point sources of pollutants will be achieved.
(e) In those cases where potential water quality impairment is associated with a thermal discharge, nothing in these regulations or their implementation shall be inconsistent with Section 316 of the Clean Water Act.
(f) In carrying out its responsibilities under these standards, the EQC and ASEPA will undertake such activities and studies as may be necessary to implement the above polices. These activities and studies may include, but are not limited to: (1) monitoring the quality of water and the impacts of pollutant discharges; (2) requiring appropriate levels of treatment and other pollutant control measures through conditions placed on water quality certifications (24.0209) and other approvals granted by the EQC; and (3) performing inspections and, as necessary, undertaking enforcement actions to assure compliance.History: Rule 6-05, eff 2005.