Risk Assessment

Framework for Developing Suspended and Bedded Sediment (SABS) Water Quality Criteria

EPA announces the release of the final document, Framework for Developing Suspended and Bedded Sediments (SABS) Water Quality Criteria which describes an integrative assessment process for developing water quality criteria suspended and bedded sediments in aquatic systems. This final document reflects a consideration of all comments received through peer reviews conducted by the Office of Water. The document is a joint publication of the Office of Water and Office of Research and Development (EPA/822-R-06-001).

The purpose of this document is to provide a technical resource for states, tribes, and regions that wish to develop suspended or bedded sediment criteria, restoration targets, or use the analyses to develop stressor-response associations for causal analysis.


Robert Cantilli

phone:  202-566-1091

email: cantilli.robert@epa.gov


U.S. EPA. Framework for Developing Suspended and Bedded Sediment (SABS) Water Quality Criteria. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/822-R-06-001.
Suspended and bedded sediments (SABS) are defined by EPA as particulate organic and inorganic matter that suspend in or are carried by the water, and/or accumulate in a loose, unconsolidated form on the bottom of natural water bodies. This includes the frequently used terms of clean sediment, suspended sediment, total suspended solids, bedload, turbidity, or in common terms, dirt, soils or eroded materials. The Framework consists of a stepwise process for developing criteria for SABS. It includes gathering information, synthesizing the state of knowledge, analyzing available data, gathering more data if needed, and selecting criteria values. SABS criteria can then be implemented within a comprehensive management plan. The process engages stakeholders, develops several lines of scientific evidence, and documents the decision analysis process while also accommodating regional differences. The process is flexible and robust, allowing resource managers to customize the criteria development process to meet their unique regulatory and programmatic needs. Technical methods are also included. Cover of the Framework document

SABS occur naturally in all types of waterbodies. In appropriate amounts, sediments are essential to aquatic ecosystems. They can contribute to essential habitat for aquatic species’ growth and reproduction. However, imbalanced sediment supply has repeatedly ranked high as a major cause of waterbody impairment. States, tribes, and territories want tools for developing SABS standards and criteria.


Oct 2003USEPA Science Advisory Board Consultation
Dec 2004First review draft completed
Mar 2005First review comments received
Aug 2005Second review draft comments received
Mar 2006Second review completed and comments addressed
May 2006Final report cleared and released
Nov 2007Workshop for Development of Suspended and Bedded Sediment Water Quality Criteria

This download(s) is distributed solely for the purpose of pre-dissemination peer review under applicable information quality guidelines. It has not been formally disseminated by EPA. It does not represent and should not be construed to represent any Agency determination or policy.


This final document is a joint publication of the Office of Water and Office of Research and Development (EPA/822-R-06-001).
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