Revising the Water Quality Assessment & Policy 1-11

The Clean Water Act requires states to regularly assess readily available water quality data and update the status of state waters. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved Washington's most recent water quality assessment in 2016.

We're currently in a water quality assessment cycle. During the assessment cycle we review and update our guidance (Policy 1-11) for how we make waterbody listing  decisions, as well as gather readily available water quality data.

In 2018 we made major changes to Policy 1-11. In 2019, we adopted new bacteria water quality criteria to better protect people who may come in contact with E-coli in fresh waters and enterococci in marine waters while doing recreational activities. Now, we are holding a public comment period on draft revisions to the policy to address this new criteria.

In 2018, we also gathered available data from the public. We're in the process of evaluating the data and writing up our assessment results. When we're done, we will hold a public comment period to finalize the assessment for the EPA's approval.

Revising Policy 1-11

In Nov. 2018, we made major revisions to water quality Policy 1-11, Chapter 1: Assessment of Water Quality for the Clean Water Act Sections 303(d) and 305(b) Intregrated Report. This policy guides our decisions on listing water bodies following our Water Quality Assessment to meet Clean Water Act requirements.

In 2019, we adopted, and the EPA approved, new bacteria criteria to better protect people who may come in contact with E. coli in fresh waters and enterococci in marine waters while doing recreational activities. While the new criteria replaces fecal coliform as the indicator for contact recreation, standards in marine waters remain to protect the shellfish harvesting industry.

Draft revisions to Policy 1-11 for bacteria recreational use criteria

Public comment: April 1 - 30, 2020

We invite you to review and comment on our updated Policy 1-11 to address the new bacteria criteria adopted into the water quality standards.

Statewide webinar

As part of the public review, we will hold a statewide webinar to explain the draft revisions and answer questions.

Wednesday April 22 at 1:30 p.m.
Join the webinar or (register ahead here).

Submitting written comments

The deadline for getting public comments on revisions to Water Quality Policy 1-11, Chapter 1, is 11:59 p.m. on April 30, 2020. Ecology prefers comments be submitted through the online comment form provided on the webpage.

  • Online via the e-Comment form
  • By mail:
    Susan Braley, Water Quality Program
    Washington State Department of Ecology
    PO Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504

Documents to review

Background information

We completed a public call for data on March 28, 2018. We sought available water quality data and information collected for fresh and marine waters in Washington for the past 10 years (Jan. 1, 2008 – Dec. 31, 2017). We will use the credible data (Chapter 2) we gathered along with our own data to update our Water Quality Assessment.

Feedback and information from the public dialogue was used to draft a revised Policy 1-11. Updates to Policy 1-11 also went through a full public review process.

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