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 from the public.
We gathered available data from the public in 2018 and are now in the process of evaluating the data and writing up our assessment results. When we're done, we'll hold a public comment period to finalize the assessment for the EPA's approval.
In 2018, we also 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. We recently held 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'll 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.This revision to Policy 1-11 is addresses updates to the bacteria assessment methodology which are necessary to align with the changes new bacteia criteria. 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 period: April 1 - 30, 2020
We conducted a public review of the updated bacteria listing methodology. The Water Quality Assessment team is currently reviewing the comments received and expect to finalize the complete Policy 1-11 in June, 2020.
Finalizing Policy 1-11
Policy 1-11 was finalized in November, 2018. Ecology will publish a revised version to include the updates to the bacteria listing methodology that results from this public review. This final policy will guide the assessment of data we are conducting to update the Water Quality Assessment & 303(d) list. Ecology expects to have a draft list available for public review the fall of 2020.
Join our email listserv to receive updates on this process, and other water quality information.