WSR 04-21-093

DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY


[ Filed October 20, 2004, 11:09 a.m. ]


Department of Ecology Makes Water Quality Assessment, including the Section 303(d) List, Available for Public Review


The Department of Ecology has compiled and assessed available water quality data on a statewide basis in order to get a better picture of the overall status of water quality in Washington's waters. The assessment fulfills requirements of the Clean Water Act, including the list of known polluted waters in the state referred to as the Section 303(d) list, and a status of water quality in the state required by Section 305(b).

Developing the water quality assessment has been a multi-year process that has involved an update to the department's policy for placing waters in various water quality categories in September 2002, conducting a public call for data in the fall of 2002, and then conducting a public review on the preliminary results of the assessment from January - March 2004. During this review, the public was invited to comment on the draft assessment listings, and to submit new data to be considered for inclusion in this assessment.

During the first public review, ecology received two hundred sixty-two comments, letters, and e-mails that included over sixteen hundred specific suggestions or comments on the waterbody listings. Ecology also received thirty-two sets of new water quality data from outside sources. Ecology staff have reviewed the comments and assessed new data received from the public review, resulting in numerous changes to the draft water quality assessment.

Ecology is conducting a second and final public review on the water quality assessment from November 3 through December 17, 2004. The public is asked to comment on the final draft assessment. New data will not be accepted during this review. Informational workshops on how to access the information using an interactive mapping tool and simple query tool will be held in the following locations:


Date Location Time Address
November 12, 2004 Lacey 10:00 a.m.-

12:00 p.m.

Ecology Headquarters Auditorium

300 Desmond Drive

Lacey

November 17, 2004 Yakima 6:30 p.m.-

8:30 p.m.

Yakima Convention Center

10 North 8th Street

Yakima

November 18, 2004 Spokane 6:30 p.m.-

8:30 p.m.

Spokane Falls Community College

Student Union Building

Conference Room

West 3410 Fort George Wright Drive


The workshops will also cover general information relating to the water quality assessment, providing similar information to workshops conducted during the Spring 2004 public review. If individuals or groups are interested in meeting with ecology at a time or location different from the workshops, please contact Ken Koch at (360) 407-6782 or by e-mail at 303d@ecy.wa.gov.

Ecology encourages the public to review waters that they are familiar with, and provide comments on where they see problems or disagree with the assessment results. If the commenter disagrees with the assessment results, an explanation should be provided, and additional data submitted to support the finding, if available.

What Happens After the Public Review? Ecology will review all comments and make changes to the preliminary list of categories as appropriate. After that, the final assessment will be formally submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for review. EPA has the authority to approve or disapprove Category 5 listed waters, which is the equivalent of the Section 303(d) list. Each of the water bodies on the Category 5 list will need water cleanup plans developed, also known as a total maximum daily loads or TMDLs. A TMDL identifies how much pollution needs to be reduced or eliminated to achieve clean water.

How do I Learn More? To learn more about the draft water quality assessment of Washington's waters, visit our website at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/303d/2002/2002-index.html. Questions can also be addressed to Ken Koch at (360) 407-6782 or by e-mail at 303d@ecy.wa.gov.

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