Chapter 173-201A WAC (variances)

The Department of Ecology is starting the rulemaking process to amend Chapter 173-201A WAC Water Quality Standards for Surface Waters of the State of Washington.   

The rulemaking would adopt one or more variances to the water quality standards for organic compounds known as polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs. We are considering the variances in response to five applications received from point source dischargers to the Spokane River.

Rulemaking timeline


Announcement phase (CR-101)

Filing date:
June 12, 2019

Announcement documents

Rule development phase

June 2019 - Winter 2019/2020

Public input & involvement

April 8, 2020: Open house webinar on PCB Variances for the Spokane River

Note: We have rescheduled the March 24 and March 26, 2020, open house events for April 8, 2020.

The purpose of this open house is to revisit general information about variances and background on PCBs from previous workshops. Our goal is to provide the public with information that will assist with the upcoming review of the draft rule.

During the open house, we will cover:

  • An overview of PCBs in the environment
  • The water quality standard for PCBs and how we measure it
  • What is a variance and how does it affect compliance with water quality standards?
  • How we evaluated each individual discharger variance application
  • What to expect during the formal public comment period

Morning webinar
April 8, 2020, 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Register for the webinar

Evening webinar
April 8, 2020, 6 - 8:30 p.m.
Register for the webinar

If you can, please register in advance using the registration web links. This helps make sure you get any software updates taken care of that might be needed for you to attend.

Here are some important tips for attending the webinar:

  • We recommend you use the Google Chrome browser when signing in.
  • Plan to join us about 10 minutes before the event beings

Our intent for holding the open house is to provide transparent and easy to understand information on what a variance from the water quality standards means, and why we are considering PCB variances for the Spokane River. We will have both informational posters and the webinar presentation available online prior to the webinar. View our informational posters.

We are also hoping to gather your questions prior to the webinar to help make it easier for everyone to participate. Please email any questions about the Spokane River PCB Variances to We will address them during the Q & A portion of the webinar and will allow time for additional questions during the presentation.

Nov. 14, 2019: Workshop on PCB Variances for the Spokane River

We held a one day public workshop to share information on the potential use of PCB variances for five Spokane River dischargers. This workshop was held in-person in Spokane Valley, WA, and online via webinar.

June 12 to July 11, 2019:

We held a public comment period on the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

As part of the formal EIS process, a 21-day scoping notice is held to announce that we are starting to develop a draft EIS and to invite any suggestions on what the scope of the draft EIS should include. On June 28, 2019 we extended the comment period to 30 days. The comment period ended on July 11, 2019. 

We asked for comments about alternatives, mitigation measures, adverse impacts, and any other considerations we should include as we develop the EIS. We do not yet have a draft rule; we will start working on the draft in the coming months and will release it for public comment during the rule proposal phase before it is finalized. 
See our blog for more information

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.