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The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) – Water Quality Division (WQD) recently received notice from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) approving designated use changes of many low-flow stream channels in Wyoming for secondary contact recreation.
As the third driest and least populated state in the U.S., Wyoming has thousands of low-flow channels and ditches that do not have sufficient water to support full body immersion and where people have limited contact with the water.
Secondary contact recreation includes activities such as wading and fishing that are not expected to result in immersion or similar levels of contact with the water. Previously, these low-flow channels were designated for primary contact recreation, which is intended to protect immersion, swimming, or similar water contact activities.
"These designated use changes more accurately reflect how the public uses and recreates in Wyoming streams," said Lindsay Patterson, DEQ Surface Water Quality Standards Supervisor.
A letter from the USEPA states:
"The EPA approves the majority of Wyoming's adopted SCR (Secondary Contact Recreation) uses as consistent with the CWA (Clean Water Act) and the EPA's implementing regulations... We appreciate the efforts of WDEQ to address the EPA's comments throughout the seven-year development of the UAA (Use Attainability Analysis) and resulting designated use changes."
Parfitt added that DEQ will continue to work with interested stakeholders to modify recreational designated uses on a site-specific basis as appropriate.
As stated in the USEPA letter:
"Designated uses are never "done" - they are regularly refined over time as new information becomes available... It is important that the public remains engaged in this ongoing use refinement process. Wyoming's WQS (Water Quality Standards) allow "any person at any time" to petition the WDEQ for a designated use change."
Questions and requests for further information can be directed to Lindsay Patterson at Lindsay.Patterson@wyo.gov or 307-777-7079.