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U. S. Recreational Water Quality Criteria (RWQC): A Vision for the Future

March 11, 2013 - March 13, 2013
Ala Moana Hotel, Honolulu

U.S. recreational water quality criteria (RWQC) are needed to protect the public health of people who swim and bathe in designated beaches. However, advances in microbiology, environmental science and engineering, and epidemiology, as well as progress in monitoring programs in the last decades have called into question the scientific credibility of the RWQC. Hence in 2000, the U.S. Congress (the Clean Water Act as amended by the BEACH Act) mandated USEPA to conduct studies concerning pathogen indicators in recreational waters and to review the criteria. USEPA responded with several epidemiological studies, as well as organized a series of scientific and stakeholder workshops to learn about relevant issues to be considered in the development of new or revised criteria.

In December 2011, USEPA published a draft of the proposed recreational water quality criteria. This draft document indicated that the revised RWQC would not differ substantially from the previous recreational water quality criteria published in 1986. However, a significant change in this document was the publication of new guidelines that will allow individual states to use alternative methods for monitoring water quality, and opportunities to implement state specific water quality standards. The effectiveness of these new guidelines has not been tested at the state level. Moreover, during the planning of this conference, USEPA had not yet published the guidelines for alternative methods and standards nor finalized the proposed criteria; hence the specifics of implementation strategies as well as incentives to develop and adapt alternative standards have remained unclear so far. For these reasons, science-based assessment of RWQC and discussion on how new science can be used to take advantage of the flexibilities alluded to in the new RWQC are needed. Furthermore, as the BEACH Act requires RWQC reviewed at least once every five years, it is timely to identify current research needs and available opportunities.

The conference focuses on the use of scientific method to achieve the following goals:
1. Evaluate the methods and approaches which were used in developing and implementing new RWQC.
2. Evaluate how newer methods and approaches can be used to establish site-specific criteria.
3. Evaluate how published experimental methods can be used to determine health risk to swimmers and be applied to develop RWQC.

Ticket Information
Registration required: Regular Rate: $400, Student $300

Event Sponsor
Water Resources Research Center, Mānoa Campus

More Information
956-7848, E-mail:, Web Address:, Program (PDF)

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