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Designated uses

various designated uses

Designated uses are those uses specified in water quality standards for each water body or segment whether or not they are being attained. All Virginia waters 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.

Through the protection of these minimum uses, other uses such as industrial water supply, irrigation and navigation also are protected. Should additional standards be needed to protect other uses as dictated by law (such as public water supply) or improved knowledge, they will be adopted.

At a minimum, uses are deemed attainable through the impositions of technology and performance based effluent limits and cost effective and reasonable best management practices for non-point source controls.  Use designations and the criteria to protect those uses must also ensure the maintenance of downstream water quality standards.

The State Water Control Board may remove or establish subcategories of an existing use if the Board can demonstrate that attaining the designated use is not feasible due to the factors stated in the Water Quality Standards section 9 VAC 25-260-10 subsection H.  Prior to removing a use or adopting subcategories of a use that require less stringent criteria a Use Attainability Analysis (UAA) must be conducted to determine whether or not current designated uses are being met (9 VAC 25-260-10 subsection K).

An example of a subcategory of an existing use is the Migratory Fish Spawning & Nursery Designated Use Areas (map) for the Chesapeake Bay. 

Use Attainability Analysis (UAA)

Recent amendments to the Code of Virginia (§ 62.1-44.19:7) allow for aggrieved parties to ask the Board to allow said party to conduct a use attainability analysis (UAA) according to criteria established pursuant to the Clean Water Act and a schedule established by the Board.  The aggrieved party must submit reasonable grounds to conduct an aquatic life use attainability analysis and these grounds must be subject to public notice and comment.  Reasonable grounds documentation, comments received and other pertinent information will be maintained in the table below.  Should this matter enter into the rulemaking process as an amendment to the water quality standards regulation, all information regarding it will be found on the Rulemaking Info web page.   

The following table describes the status of any submissions to conduct a Use Attainability Analysis: 



Other Information


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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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