New Selenium Water Quality Standards for Selenium Proposed – DOW Receiving Public Comment on Changes to Water Quality Criteria

The Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) made public notification of proposed new water quality criteria for selenium on Feb. 5, 2013 and is receiving public comment on these proposed criteria through Mar. 1, 2013.

Pursuant to the Clean Water Act, DOW is responsible for establishing water quality standards for Kentucky, reviewing these standards every three years and modifying these standards, as appropriate.

As part of this triennial review, DOW proposed on Sept. 1, 2012 to withdraw the acute water quality criterion for selenium based on the division’s concern that Kentucky’s current acute criterion is not scientifically sound or defensible.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provided comments to DOW regarding the proposed withdrawal of the acute selenium criterion and suggested three options to DOW:  1) leave Kentucky’s current acute criterion in place and wait for the release of any revisions to EPA’s criteria guidance; 2) adopt the acute criterion from EPA’s current national recommended guidance; or 3) adopt an alternate criterion based on other scientifically defensible information.

DOW conducted an evaluation of the available studies of selenium toxicity to aquatic species, following which the cabinet determined it appropriate to develop state-specific water quality criteria. Therefore, the cabinet is proposing to amend the existing Kentucky water quality criteria for selenium. This action is responsive to public comments received, in particular, EPA’s recommended option to adopt an alternate criteria based on other scientifically defensible information.

DOW is proposing a revised acute criterion for selenium consistent with the 2004 EPA proposed criteria. DOW is also proposing Kentucky-specific tissue-based chronic criteria, adopting the option to assess whole-body fish tissue or, alternatively, of fish egg/ovary tissue. The agency amendment to the Legislative Research Commission proposing the change to the water quality standards for selenium and the technical document explaining the agency’s rationale can be found at:

DOW encourages interested parties to provide comments to the division on these proposed criteria. Comments should be submitted to by COB March 1, 2013. For more information, contact Peter Goodmann at 502-564-3410 or