Chapter 173-201A WAC, (salmon spawning habitat)

We are considering revisions to chapter 173-201A WAC, Water Quality Standards for Surface Waters of the State of Washington.

The purpose of this rulemaking is to provide additional water quality and habitat protection for early life stages of salmonids—including salmon, steelhead, and trout—and their spawning gravel. We are considering the following revisions in this rulemaking:

  • Adding definitions to WAC 173-201A-020 Definitions
  • Amending WAC 173-201A-200(1)(d), Aquatic life dissolved oxygen criteria for fresh water.
  • Adding a subsection WAC 173-201A-200(1)(h) Aquatic life fine sediment narrative criterion

Rulemaking timeline


Announcement phase (CR-101)

Filing date:
Dec. 2, 2019

Announcement documents

Rule development phase

Dec. 2, 2019 - Fall 2021

Public input & involvement

Science Advisory Group meetings

The purpose of the science advisory group is to discuss the scientific literature on the impacts of intragravel dissolved oxygen and fine sediment on salmonid spawning. This group also discussed the different measures that can be used to determine if excess fine sediment is contributing to poor habitat quality.

Ecology hosted five online advisory group meetings between Oct. 29, 2020, and July 27, 2021. Participants include Ecology staff and external stakeholders with expertise in habitat protection and implementation of related criteria.

Read a summary of the Science Advisory Group, including participant information and notes from each meeting.

Sept. 21, 2021: Webinar on Preliminary Rule Proposal

View Sept. 21, 2021 presentation slides (pdf)

We held an informational webinar to preview what we are considering for the upcoming rule proposal. 

During this webinar, we presented:

  • Reasons for revising the freshwater dissolved oxygen criteria and adding a new fine sediment criterion
  • Preliminary draft rule changes
  • The science behind the preliminary decisions for this rule
  • A review of the rulemaking timeline and next steps

October 8, 2020: Webinar on the Salmon Spawning Habitat Protection Rule

View presentation slides (pdf)

The purpose of this webinar is to provide background information on the rule and discuss our process for rule development.

We covered the following topics during this webinar:

  • Overview of Washington's surface water quality standards
  • The science behind this rulemaking
  • The current freshwater dissolved oxygen and narrative criteria
  • Reasons for revising the water quality standards
  • Preliminary options and considerations for criteria development
  • Formation of a science advisory group
  • Considerations for implementing the rule
  • Tentative rulemaking timeline


Rule proposal phase (CR-102)

Filing date:
Oct. 18, 2021

Rule proposal documents:

Comment period

Comments due Dec. 16, 2021

We will review all comments received and plan for adoption March 9, 2022. See above for documents related to the Proposal Phase of this rulemaking.

You can submit comments through one of the following ways:

  • Submit comments online (preferred)
  • Mail to: 

    For standard US Mail-
    Department of Ecology
    Water Quality Program
    Susan Braley
    PO BOX 47600
    Olympia, WA 98504-7600

    For Parcel Service-
    Department of Ecology
    Water Quality Program
    Susan Braley
    300 Desmond Dr SE
    Lacey, WA 98503
  • Attend a public hearing - see below

Public Hearings

The hearings will begin with a short presentation and question and answer session, followed by the opportunity to provide testimony. Written comments will receive the same consideration as oral testimony. 

Dec. 8, 2021 at 5:30 p.m.
Join the webinar
To join the webinar using audio only, call US Toll number 1-415-655-0001, and enter access code 2462 183 2124.

Dec. 9, 2021 at 1:30 p.m.
Join the webinar
To join the webinar using audio only, call US Toll number 1-415-655-0001, and enter access code 2460 493 9912.

Because of health considerations from COVID, we are only offering hearings via webinar. Webinars are an online meeting forum that you can attend from any computer using internet access.

Any information (e.g., personal or contact) you provide may be publicly disclosed and posted on the Internet.

To request ADA accommodations, contact Ecology’s ADA Coordinator by Dec. 3, 2021, at:

Additional languages

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To request ADA accommodation for disabilities, or printed materials in a format for the visually impaired, contact Ecology's ADA Coordinator by email at, or call 360-407-6831. People with impaired hearing may call Washington Relay Service at 711. People with speech disability may call TTY at 877-833-6341.