The Federal Clean Water Act and the Georgia Water Quality Control Act authorize the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA EPD) to develop water quality standards and to periodically review and update those standards. In 2009, GA EPD proposed new dissolved oxygen criteria for the Savannah Harbor.
In 1986, Georgia EPD proposed a seasonal dissolved oxygen standard for the Savannah Harbor from the Seaboard Coastal Railroad at river mile 24.7 to Fort Pulaski at river mile zero. This stretch of the river is designated as Coastal Fishing. The original Coastal Fishing dissolved oxygen criteria for the Savannah River was disapproved by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in 1989.
In 2006, a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for dissolved oxygen was established for the Savannah Harbor based on this disapproved criteria. The 2006 TMDL established that all dischargers from Augusta to the Harbor (on the Savannah River and its tributaries) would have to meet an oxygen demanding load of zero. USEPA Savannah Harbor Dissolved Oxygen Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Report 
The 2009 dissolved oxygen criteria was adopted in order for the TMDL to be revised and for GA EPD to move forward with wastewater discharge permit issuances and re-issuances.