Chapter 173-201A WAC (Outstanding Resource Waters)

We adopted changes to chapter 173-201A Water Quality Standards for Surface Waters of the State of Washington.

In response to nominations we received in 2021, and after considering public comments and weighing public support for each nomination, we designated four bodies of water as outstanding resource waters (ORWs). ORWs are identified as having exceptional water quality, ecological or recreational values, or unique attributes. An ORW has the highest level of protection assigned to a water body under the Tier III Antidegradation rule in our water quality standards.

We designated these waterbodies under a new section WAC 173-201A-332 - Table 332 - Outstanding Resource Water designations by water resource inventory area (WRIA).

We designated the following as Tier III(A) ORWs:

  • Portions of the Napeequa River and tributaries (Chelan County)
  • Upper watershed of the Green River and tributaries (Skamania County)
  • Upper watershed of the Cascade River and tributaries (Skagit County)

We designated the following as a Tier III(B) ORW:

  • Soap Lake (Grant County)

We also adopted amendments to:

  • WAC 173-201A-020 to add a definition for ORWs
  • WAC 173-201A-330 to clarify the tribal consultation process
  • WAC 173-201A-602 to note where an ORW exists on water bodies with specified use designations within Table 602

Rulemaking timeline


Announcement phase (CR-101)

Filing date:
Aug. 30, 2022

Announcement documents

Rule development phase

Aug. 30, 2022 - July 17, 2023

Public input & involvement

June 6, 2023 - Grant County Commissioners Meeting

We presented information on the rulemaking and the nomination to designate Soap Lake as an outstanding resource water to the Grant County Commissioners.

Wednesday, June 6 at 10:30 a.m.
Meeting agenda and information on how to join is posted on the Grant County website.

View presentation slides (pdf)

May 31, 2023 - Skamania County Commissioners Meeting

We presented information on the rulemaking and the nomination to designate the upper watershed of the Green River to the Skamania County Commissioners.

Wednesday, May 31 at 1:30 p.m.

View presentation slides (pdf)

April 5, 2023 - Soap Lake City Council Meeting

We presented information on the rulemaking and the nomination to designate Soap Lake as an outstanding resource water to the Soap Lake City Council.

Wednesday, April 5 at 5:30 p.m.
Soap Lake Community and Senior Center
121 2nd Ave SE, Soap Lake, WA 98851
Meeting Agenda and other information available on the City of Soap Lake website.

View presentation slides (pdf)

Nov. 16 and 17, 2022 - Public Informational Webinar

We invite you to an informational webinar for the rulemaking to consider designating outstanding resource waters in Washington. During this webinar, we will go over:

  • Washington’s water quality standards and outstanding resource water policy
  • A brief introduction of each nomination
    • Soap Lake in Grant County
    • Part of the Napeequa River in Chelan County
    • Part of the Cascade River in Skagit County
    • Part of the Green River in Lewis and Skamania counties
  • Rulemaking schedule and public involvement opportunities

View the presentation slides (pdf)

This webinar* is offered via Zoom at the following dates and times:

Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 17 at 1:30 p.m.

*Workshops offered via webinar allow individuals to view the presentation and ask questions via computer or mobile device. 

Rule proposal phase (CR-102)

Filing date:
July 18, 2023

Rule proposal documents:

Comment period

We accepted comments until Sept. 27, 2023. See above documents related to the rule proposal.

You can also view:

We held a virtual public hearing on Sept. 7, 2023, and in person hearings on Sept. 12, 14, 19, and 20, 2023, in comunities near each of the nominated water. During the hearings, we gave a short presentation, answered questions, and accepted testimony.

Additional languages

Español (Spanish) 中文 (Chinese) Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese) 한국어 (Korean) русский (Russian) український (Ukrainian)


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.