Division of Surface Water Rules and Laws

The Division of Surface Water (DSW) develops and enforces rules in the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC).

Ohio EPA surface water quality protection and wastewater pollution control regulations are located in OAC Chapters 3745-1 to 3745-5, 3745-11, 3745-32 to 3745-33, 3745-36, 3745-38 to 3745-40, and 3745-42. Additional chapters are added as needed to address new laws and requirements related to surface waters.

Proposing new rules and amending existing rules is a regular activity conducted by Ohio EPA in response to laws passed by the Ohio General Assembly and federal rule requirements. DSW is required by federal law to review water quality standards regulations every three years and by state law to review rules at least once every five years to ensure their continued need and relevance.

During the Ohio rule-making process, rules pass through four phases: early stakeholder outreach, draft review, proposal to the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, and final adoption. To view the rules currently in each of these phases, please see the tabs below.

Join a rules electronic mailing list to stay informed about current rule-makings and opportunities to provide comment during the process.

Additional information on the Ohio EPA rule-making process and information on Agency-wide rules can be found on the Agency Rules and Laws page.

Rulemaking News and Updates

August 16, 2021 - The Beneficial Use Designations Wave 3 rules (OAC 3745-1-10, -14, -24, -26, -27, -28) are available for Interested Party Review. The comment deadline is September 15, 2021. The draft rules, fact sheet, and other informational document can be found on the Interested Party Review tab.

June 11, 2021 - As of June 11, 2021 four WQS Beneficial Use Designation rules (OAC 3745-1-11, -12, -19, and -23) have recieved approval from USEPA and can now be used for regulatory purposes such as permitting, TMDLs, etc. These rules became effective on April 21, 2021. These rules were known as the BUD Wave 1 rule package and were part of an ongoing effort to update the Agency's backlog of use designation reviews. The effective rules can be found on the WQS webpage.

The first step in the rule-making process is for Ohio EPA to identify that a rule needs to be amended, rescinded or created.  Ohio EPA may also review a rule pursuant to the five-year rule review requirements (ORC 119.032) and determine that the rule should be filed with Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) as "no change."

In response to Executive Order 2011-01K, Ohio EPA has added an additional step to ensure stakeholders are brought into the rule process as early as possible. This additional interested party notification and request for information will allow for early feedback before the rule language has been developed by the Agency. 

Please see below for a listing of rules the DSW is reviewing, a fact sheet requesting stakeholder input and the comment deadline.

Rule Package Title

Fact Sheet /Webinar

Comment Period Deadline

Effective Rules

New Rules to Reduce Impacts of Nutrients in Surface Waters ESO Web Page May 22, 2013
 
 
Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards Program Rules OAC Chapter 3745-1   ESO Fact Sheet
Overview Sheet

Webinar Recording

Webinar Presentation Slides

November 14, 2016  Chapter 3745-1   
New Rule - PTI Onsite Sewage Treatment Systems (OAC 3745-42-12) ESO Fact Sheet June 25, 2018  
New Rule - PTI Campgrounds (OAC 3745-42-14) ESO Fact Sheet June 25, 2018  
New Rule - Nutrients for Large Rivers (OAC 3745-1-36) Large River Paper
Map of Ohio's Large Rivers
Presentation
ESO Fact Sheet
Large River Nutrient WQS Data File
September 26, 2018
October 26, 2018
 
New Rule - PTI Storage and Treatment Facilities (OAC 3745-42-14) ESO Fact Sheet May 6, 2019 3745-42-13
WQS Variances Rule (OAC 3745-1-38)  ESO Fact Sheet  August 31, 2020 3745-1-38 
Beneficial Use Designations 2020 (OAC 3745-1-08, -15, -18, -22)  ESO Fact Sheet  September 17, 2020 3745-1 
WQS (OAC 3745-1-02, -03, and -31) ESO Fact Sheet June 25, 2021 3745-1
         

 

The interested party review (IPR) process is designed to allow interested parties, stakeholders or citizens to make comments regarding the rule prior to adoption.  The IPR process is the second step in the rulemaking process.  Whereas the Early Stakeholder Outreach process asked for general comments on anticipated rule changes, the IPR process asks interested parties, stakeholders or citizens to make comments on the draft rule language developed by Ohio EPA.

During the IPR process, Ohio EPA is required to submit a Business Regulation Impact Analysis (BIA) to the Common Sense Initiative Office (CSIO).  CSIO has two options for the BIA:
1.  Prepare and send recommendations to Ohio EPA for eliminating or reducing adverse impacts.
2.  Allow 16 days to pass without preparing and sending recommendations.

Based on comments received from interested parties or the CSIO, Ohio EPA may choose to revise the rules further before proposing them to the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR).

Please see below for a listing of draft rules the Agency has made available for interested party review.

Draft Beneficial Use Designation Rules OAC 3745-1 Wave 3

Background

Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Chapter 3745-1 contains the Water Quality Standards program rules. These rules contain: beneficial use designations such as warmwater aquatic life habitat, public water supply and primary contact recreation; numeric levels and narrative statements (water quality criteria) protective of the use designations; and procedures for applying the water quality criteria to wastewater dischargers.

Beneficial use designations are the water quality goals for lakes, rivers, streams and other water bodies. Designations include such uses as aquatic life habitats (warmwater, coldwater, etc.), recreation (bathing waters, primary contact, secondary contact) and water supplies (public, agricultural, industrial).

Beneficial use designations are assigned to specific water bodies in Chapter 3745-1 of the OAC. Each of the 23 major drainage basins or watersheds in the state is assigned a rule in Chapter 3745-1. Specific water quality criteria are associated with each beneficial use and are the minimum specific target conditions to be maintained in the water bodies. Together the uses and criteria may be the basis for permit limits in wastewater discharge permits and conditions in Section 401 water quality certifications.

This rulemaking includes review of beneficial use designations in 6 basins. Please see the fact sheet and draft rules below for specific information.

For more information about the Water Quality Standards program, visit the Water Quality Standards Program web page.

Available documents

Draft Rules

Rule  Draft Action 
3745-1-10 Grand river drainage basin. Amend
3745-1-14 Ashtabula river drainage basin. Amend 
3745-1-24 Muskingum river drainage basin. Amend 
3745-1-26 Cuyahoga river drainage basin. Amend 
3745-1-27 Black river drainage basin. Amend
3745-1-28 Vermilion river drainage basin. Amend
   
  • Text to be deleted is struck out; new text is underlined.

The comment deadline is September 15, 2021.

Support Documents

Rule OAC 3745-1-10

Rule OAC 3745-1-14

Rule OAC 3745-1-24

Rule OAC 3745-1-26

Rule OAC 3745-1-27

Rule OAC 3745-1-28

For additional information or to submit comments

Interested Party Release- Updating Outdated Modes of Communication

Background

In a joint rulemaking effort, the Lieutenant Governor’s office and Ohio EPA have identified instances where outdated modes of communication, such as paper mail, facsimile, or newspaper, are required. Also identified were rules that contained the requirement for regulated entities to submit multiple copies of a document. To reduce adverse impacts to regulated entities and to provide modern options, Ohio EPA is releasing drafts containing only amendments to those instances.

The Division of Surface Water is making available for public comment draft rule language and a draft of the business impact analysis (BIA) document for amended surface water rules in the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) as part of this rulemaking effort. The surface water rules in this rulemaking belong to two separate Chapters of the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) 3745-3 “Pretreatment,” 3745-42 “Permit to Install.”

Ohio EPA is requesting comments on the draft rules and the draft BIA document before the agency proposes the rules to the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR). The agency will be accepting comments through Friday, August 13, 2021. Please see the draft rule language, fact sheet, and draft business impact analysis (linked below) for information on the surface water rules in this rulemaking and how to submit comments. For information on other agency rules in this rulemaking, please go here.

Available documents

Draft Rules

Rule  Draft Action 
3745-3-03 POTW Pretreatment Programs Amend
3745-42-01 Definitions Amend 
   
  • Text to be deleted is struck out; new text is underlined.

The comment deadline is August 13, 2021.

For additional information or to submit comments

Draft Beneficial Use Designation Rules OAC 3745-1 Wave 2

Background

Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Chapter 3745-1 contains the Water Quality Standards program rules. These rules contain: beneficial use designations such as warmwater aquatic life habitat, public water supply and primary contact recreation; numeric levels and narrative statements (water quality criteria) protective of the use designations; and procedures for applying the water quality criteria to wastewater dischargers.  

Beneficial use designations are the water quality goals for lakes, rivers, streams and other water bodies. Designations include such uses as aquatic life habitats (warmwater, coldwater, etc.), recreation (bathing waters, primary contact, secondary contact) and water supplies (public, agricultural, industrial).

Beneficial use designations are assigned to specific water bodies in Chapter 3745-1 of the OAC. Each of the 23 major drainage basins or watersheds in the state is assigned a rule in Chapter 3745-1. Specific water quality criteria are associated with each beneficial use and are the minimum specific target conditions to be maintained in the water bodies. Together the uses and criteria may be the basis for permit limits in wastewater discharge permits and conditions in Section 401 water quality certifications.

This rulemaking includes review of beneficial use designations in 4 basins. Please see the fact sheet and draft rules below for specific information.

For more information about the Water Quality Standards program, visit the Water Quality Standards Program web page. 

Available documents

Draft Rules

Rule  Draft Action 
3745-1-09 Scioto river drainage basin. Amend
3745-1-16 Southeast Ohio tributaries drainage basin.  Amend 
3745-1-17 Southwest Ohio tributaries drainage basin. Amend 
3745-1-21 Great Miami river drainage basin.  Amend 
   
  • Text to be deleted is struck out; new text is underlined.

The comment deadline is August 6, 2021.

Support Documents

Rule OAC 3745-1-09

Rule OAC 3745-1-16

Rule OAC 3745-1-17

Rule OAC 3745-1-21

For additional information or to submit comments

Draft Biocriteria Rules, OAC Chapters 3745-1 and 3745-2

Background

Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Chapter 3745-1 contains standards for water quality. Water quality standards (WQS) are state regulations or rules that protect lakes, rivers, streams and other surface water bodies from pollution. These rules specify the beneficial uses of waterbodies including aquatic life, public water supply, and recreation. The rules specify numeric levels and narrative statements (water quality criteria) protective of assigned beneficial use designations, and an antidegradation policy. 
 
The Implementation of Water Quality Standards (modeling) rules in OAC Chapter 3745-2 cover the technical process for converting Ohio water quality standards to wasteload allocations that can be used as limits in National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. 
 
Rule 3745-1-07 defines Ohio's use designations, including the biological criteria (biocriteria) used in setting aquatic life use designations. Rule 3745-2-03 (new) will explain how biocriteria are used in the NPDES permit program specifically that, in some cases, biological survey data showing attainment of the biocriteria may be used as a basis for deviating from default procedures for setting water quality-based effluent limits in NPDES permits. 
 

Available Documents 

Draft Rules 

  • Text to be deleted is struck out; new text is underlined 
The comment deadline has been extended to July 19, 2021. 
 

For additional information or to submit comments

Draft General NPDES Permit Rules (OAC 3745-38)

Background

Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Chapter 3745-38 contains two rules addressing the procedural and technical requirements for the administration of Ohio EPA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General permits program.  The chapter details procedures Ohio EPA must follow in the issuance, modification and revocation of general NPDES permits as well as procedures for granting and terminating authorizations to discharge under the general permits.  The chapter also contains requirements applicable to entities seeking general permit coverage.  At this time, the Agency is soliciting initial input on draft rule revisions. 

For more information about general permits, visit the General Permits web page.  

For more information about the existing rules, visit the Chapter 3745-38 webpage. 

Available documents

Draft Rules

Rule  Draft Action 
3745-38-01 Definitions. Amend
3745-38-02 Requirements for general national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permits.  Amend 
   
  • Text to be deleted is struck out; new text is underlined.

The comment deadline is December 9, 2020.

For additional information or to submit comments

When the draft rule has completed the Interested Party Review process, and Ohio EPA has made any additional changes based on comments received, the rule is filed with the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, Secretary of State and Legislative Service Commission (LSC).  JCARR is a legislative committee who reviews agency rules to determine if they are within the regulatory authority of the Agency, they do not conflict with any other rules of the Agency or other agencies, and that the Agency has completed the various paperwork required for proposing rule language (RSFA, BIA, IBR and others).

JCARR jurisdiction lasts 65 days.  During the first 40 days of this time period, Ohio EPA will schedule and hold a public hearing on the rule and accept comments on the rule language.

Please see below for a listing of rules the Agency has proposed with JCARR.

The following is a list of Ohio Administrative Code chapters related to programs in the Division of Surface Water. Links are provided to Ohio EPA Internet pages where copies of the chapters may be downloaded.

OAC Chapter 3745-1 Water Quality Standards - Water quality standards for surface waters of the State.

OAC Chapter 3745-2 Implementation of Water Quality Standards - Regulations for the development of water quality based effluent limits and total maximum daily loads.

OAC Chapter 3745-3 Pretreatment Rules - Regulations for industrial discharges to public treatment works.

OAC Chapter 3745-4 Credible Data Rules - Regulations for administering a volunteer water quality monitoring program to collect credible data for surface water monitoring and assessment.

OAC Chapter 3745-5 Water Quality Trading Rules - Regulations that establish a voluntary statewide water quality trading program.

OAC Chapter 3745-7 Water Supply Works and Wastewater Works Personnel - Regulations for public water works and wastewater treatment plant personnel. This Chapter is available from the Ohio EPA Division of Drinking and Ground Waters site.

OAC Chapter 3745-11 Connection Ban Standards - Regulations describing criteria where connection to local sewerage systems may be prohibited and procedures for obtaining variances from connection bans.

OAC Chapter 3745-32 Section 401 Water Quality Certifications -Section 401 water quality certification requirements for activities that may result in any discharge to waters of the state (construction, placing fill, grading, dredging, ditching, stream diversion, etc.).

OAC Chapter 3745-33 Ohio NPDES Permits - The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program. Permitting requirements for municipal and industrial discharges to waters of the state.

OAC Chapter 3745-36 Permit Program Regulating Discharge of Nondomestic Wastewater into a POTW - Permitting requirements for indirect dischargers.

OAC Chapter 3745-38 Ohio NPDES General Permits - Permit requirements covering categories of discharges by persons conducting similar activities.

OAC Chapter 3745-39 Storm Water Program - Requirements for the permitting of storm water discharges.

OAC Chapter 3745-40 Sewage Sludge - Requirements for the disposal, use, storage and treatment of sewage sludge in Ohio.

OAC Chapter 3745-42 Permits to Install and Plan Approvals for Water Pollution Control - Permitting requirements for activities that include installing/modifying a system for disposing of sewage, industrial or other wastes, land application of sludge.

Clean Water Act (Federal law)

A complete copy of Chapter 26 of Title 33 of the United States Code, also known as the Clean Water Act, is available through Cornell University. A summary and brief history of the legislation is provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio Revised Code (State laws)

The following is a list of Ohio Revised Code chapters related to programs in the Division of Surface Water. These chapters can be downloaded from the Legislative Service Commission's Ohio Laws & Administrative Rules Website.

ORC Chapter 3745: Environmental Protection Agency
Creates and establishes powers of the Ohio EPA.

ORC Chapter 6111: Water Pollution Control
Specifies powers of the Ohio EPA with regard to water pollution control.

ORC Chapter 6117: Sewer Districts; County Sewers
Authorizes the establishment of sewer districts.

ORC Chapter 6119: Regional Water and Sewer Districts
Authorizes the establishment of regional water and sewer districts.

Surface Water Policies and Guidance

Questions? Email Jennie Pugliese or call (614) 728-2396.
 

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