ECA for water

Approval of the new ECA for water in Peru

The new Environmental Quality Standard (Estándar de Calidad Ambiental), ECA for water was published on the 7th of June 2017 under the Peruvian Supreme Decree Nª 004-2017-MINAM (link in Spanish). The new standard is a compilation of previous ECA for water and presents some modifications in categories, parameters and values.

Modifications of category

Category 2

  • Incorporation of the activities of extraction of marine-coastal and continental cultivation, other marine-coastal and continental activities.
  • Inclusion in subcategory 1: Echinoderms and tunicates.
  • Inclusion in subcategory 3: industrial activities or sanitation in marine coastal.

Category 3

  • Subcategory D1 on Irrigation of vegetables incorporates two new subdivisions: Water for unrestricted irrigation and water for restricted irrigation.

Modifications of parameters and values

Category 1: Population and Recreational

  • The parameter free cyanide has been incorporated to the subcategory A: Superficial water destined to produce potable water.
  • The values of the parameter for total coliforms have been eliminated in subcategory A2 (Potable water that maybe purified conventionally) and A3 (Potable water that maybe purified by advanced methods).
  • The parameter total coliforms has been eliminated from the subcategory B: Superficial waters used for recreation.

Category 3: Irrigation of vegetables and drinking water for animals

  • The parameter total coliforms has been eliminated for the two subcategories.
  • The value for the parameter Escherichia coli for the subcategory: irrigation for vegetables was 100 NMP/100 ml for the subcategory D1: Irrigation of High and Low Stem Cultivations and is now 1000 NMP/100 for the subdivision Water used for unrestricted irrigation. For the other subdivision, the parameter does not apply.
  • The values for the parameter Escherichia coli for the subcategory Drinking water for animals, was 100 NMP/100 ml and no longer applies.
  • The values for the parameter Helminths Eggs have been modified in all the categories. Previously it was <1 egg per litre and now is 1 egg per litre.

Category 4: Conservation of the aquatic environment

  • The parameter ammonium has been replaced by total ammonium and the values are to be referred to in table nº 2 of this standard.
  • The values of Antimony have been modified for the subcategories E1: Lakes and lagoons and E2: Rivers.

With respect to the competent authority in matters related to water bodies, the National Authority for Water (ANA) oversees the category assignation for each type of natural water body and if two or more categories have been identified in a determined water body zone, ANA will define the applicable category. On the other hand, if ANA has not assigned a category to a body of water, the category of the water resource to which it is taxed will apply.

Exceptions for the application of the ECA for water

  • Geological characteristics of soil and substrata which affect the quality of the water bodies.
  • Occurrences of extreme natural phenomena that generate an excess of or a lack of components to the natural water body.
  • Imbalance of nutrients by natural causes that generate eutrophication.
  • Other conditions verified by studies or technical reports.

All of the aforementioned assumptions must be supported by a technical and scientific report.

Aspects of interest for the new ECA for water

A new aspect that the new standard incorporates, are the variables to be considered for the implementation of the ECA for water as an obligatory design reference required in the design and implementation of Environmental Management Instruments (IGA), such as:

  1. Parameters associated with pollutants characteristic of the effluent of the project.
  2. Natural conditions that characterise the quality of surface water not altered by human causes.
  3. Background levels of natural bodies of water.
  4. Effects of other discharges in the area that affect the quality of the bodies of water where the activity is carried out.
  5. Other characteristics of the activity or environment that may influence the quality of the bodies of water.

In reference to the zone of mixture between natural water bodies and where treated water is discharged, ANA verifies the compliance of the ECAs for water outside the mixing zone and the evaluation of IGA by the competent authorities should be made considering the parameters of the ECA associated with the pollutants characteristic of the effluent of the project or activity. The methodology for the determination of the mixing zone is the competence of the ANA, in coordination with the Ministry of the Environment (Minam) and the competent authority. 

With respect to the analytical methods, a period of six months is established for the Peruvian Ministry of Environment in coordination with the Peruvian National Institute for Quality (INACAL) and other competent authorities to specify the test methods or analytical techniques applicable to the measurement of ECAs for water.

Finally, the holders who have already adopted an administrative procedure for the approval of their IGA before the competent authority, should take into account the valid ECA for water at the date of commencement of the procedure. Only in the update or modification of the IGA, the new ECA for water would apply.

Publicado el 28/07/17


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