BILL REQ. #:  S-3776.2 


State of Washington62nd Legislature2012 Regular Session

By Senator Nelson

Read first time 01/16/12.   Referred to Committee on Environment.

     AN ACT Relating to improving water quality to support shellfish resources; amending RCW 43.21A.130; and creating new sections.


NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1   The legislature finds that shellfish are critical to the health of Washington's marine waters and the state's economy. Shellfish aquaculture and commercial and tribal harvest of wild shellfish resources are water-dependent uses that rely on excellent water quality. Therefore, it is the purpose of this act to require a report on the progress of implementing elements of the governor's shellfish initiative as they relate to improving water quality and to authorize the department of ecology to analyze and implement, where appropriate, pollutant credit and trading mechanisms as an element of water clean-up plans for impaired water bodies supporting shellfish resources.

Sec. 2   RCW 43.21A.130 and 2002 c 364 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:
     (1) In addition to any other powers granted the director, the director may undertake studies dealing with all aspects of environmental problems involving land, water, or air((;)). However, in the absence of specific legislative authority, such studies shall be limited to investigations of particular problems, and shall not be implemented by positive action.
     (2)(a) Any studies conducted by the department to establish the total maximum daily load of a water body under chapter 90.48 RCW must involve meaningful participation and opportunities to comment by the local watershed planning group established in chapter 90.82 RCW, the local governments whose jurisdictions are within the affected watershed, and any affected or concerned citizen who notifies the department of his or her interest in participating. Technical or procedural disputes or disagreements that arise during the participation and comment process may be presented to the director for review. The director shall conduct a review of the disputed items and issue written findings and conclusions to all interested participants.
     (b) If a study conducted on the total maximum daily load of a water body may affect a new or renewed national pollution discharge elimination permit under chapter 90.48 RCW, the department must disclose prior to the finalization of the study the precision and accuracy of data collected, computer models developed, and assumptions used.
     (3) The department shall cooperate with other federal, state, and academic entities conducting research upon and evaluating the potential for mitigating water pollution in impaired water bodies through natural treatment methods. If determined appropriate and feasible, the department may implement pollutant credit and trading mechanisms as an element of a water body clean-up plan, including but not limited to implementing a nitrogen credit system using shellfish for pollution reduction.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 3   (1) Consistent with RCW 43.01.036, the department of ecology must submit a report to the appropriate standing committees of the senate and house of representatives by December 1, 2012, that includes:
     (a) A progress report on the review by the Washington sea grant of the scientific basis for management decisions to balance competing land use interests, environmental protection, and coastal development needs;
     (b) A progress report on the pilot projects and the model permitting program established as part of the Washington shellfish initiative and whether the permitting program is providing the necessary habitat protection, including whether conflicts with adjoining shoreline owners and other marine water users are being minimized;
     (c) A progress report on the work by local governments to create sustainable pollution identification and correction programs, including the efforts of local health departments to remedy on-site sewage system problems;
     (d) An update on the pollution action team and its efforts to improve water quality protections; and
     (e) The evaluation to date by the department of ecology of the potential for implementing pollutant trading and credit mechanisms pursuant to RCW 43.21A.130(3).
     (2) The definitions in this subsection apply throughout this section unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
     (a) "Pollution action team" means a team formed with staff from the United States environmental protection agency, the department of ecology, the department of health, and the department of agriculture designed to respond quickly when water quality problems are identified that threaten shellfish areas, initially focusing on Drayton Harbor and Portage Bay.
     (b) "Washington shellfish initiative" means the agreement among federal and state governments, tribes, and the shellfish industry to restore and expand Washington's shellfish resources to promote clean water industries and create family wage jobs.

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