A framework incorporating community preferences in use attainment and related water quality decision-making
Section 303(c) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) requires states and tribes to adopt water quality standards; this includes setting designated uses or goals for their water bodies. In certain cases, use attainment decisions, such as whether or not to change the use of a water body, can be complex because they can lead to gains and losses among health, ecological, institutional, and economic considerations. Estimating the gains from use attainment is not required by the CWA or Water Quality Standards regulation, but evaluating community preferences for water quality against the costs may aid in conducting a balanced analysis. The National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) and RTI International1 have prepared this report to help water quality officials and the public understand how the assessment of ecological benefits could help support their decisions.