Chapter 173-201A WAC (Salmon Spawning Habitat)

On March 22, 2022, Ecology adopted revisions to chapter 173-201A WAC, Water Quality Standards for Surface Waters of the State of Washington.

The purpose of this rule adoption 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 adopted changes to the following sections:

  • 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

The public comment period closed Dec. 16, 2021

We are reviewing all comments received and plan for adoption in spring. See above for documents related to the Proposal Phase of this rulemaking. You can review all of the comments we recieved online via our ecomments system. 

Public Hearings

We held public hearings via webinar on Dec. 8 and 9, 2021. During the public hearings, we presented our proposed changes, answered any questions, then held the formal hearing to receive oral comments. See above for documents related to the Proposal Phase of the rulemaking.

To request ADA accommodations, contact Ecology’s ADA Coordinator at:

Rule adoption phase (CR-103)

Adoption date:
March 22, 2022

Rule effective date:
April 22, 2022

Rule adoption documents:

View the Determination of Nonsignificance on this rulemaking on the Statewide SEPA Register, SEPA #202105607.

Additional languages

Español (Spanish) 中文 (Chinese) Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese) 한국어 (Korean)


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.