This is another in the series of guest posts authored by the consultants we work with and trust. Owen Reese is a Water Resources Engineer at Aspect Consulting approached us and offered to provide Aspect’s perspective on Ecology’s efforts to update its Water Quality Assessment for freshwater. We eagerly took Owen up on the offer because this work by Ecology has the potential to impact a number of dischargers throughout Washington State and fits well into Science Law and the Environment’s editorial goal of analyzing the intersection of science, law, and policy.

-Doug Steding

The Washington State Department of Ecology (“Ecology”) recently proposed updates to Washington’s Water Quality Assessment for freshwater, as required by sections 303(d) and 305(b) of the Clean Water Act. This list is important because it identifies which waters require water cleanup plans and could result in additional requirements for NPDES permit holders discharging to waters identified as impaired.

Ecology is seeking public comment until May 15, and is currently hosting a series of listening sessions to introduce the proposed changes in the Water Quality Assessment. The remaining sessions are: April 15 in Yakima, and April 16 in Spokane Valley. I attended the first session in Edmonds on April 7. This article summarizes my key takeaways from the presentations, with particular attention to potential effects to NPDES permittees.
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Note from Doug Steding:

This post arose out of a meeting over coffee with James Peale and Jackie Gruber, where we discussed Ecology’s recent Remedial Action Grant rulemaking. James and Jackie highlighted Maul Foster & Alongi, Inc.’s deep experience representing public entities in the pursuit of Remedial Action Grant money. Michael Stringer at

Doug’s post on July 23 provided an excellent summary of Ecology’s webinar outlining its revision process for water quality standards (WQSs). Integral would like to point out a few more details of interest in Ecology’s approach.

Ecology indicated that it will continue to use bioconcentration factors (BCFs), which estimate concentrations in fish tissue based on

Note: This is the second guest post by Integral on this subject, it is also worth reviewing their prior post from February on this topic.

In addition to the updated national recommended water quality criteria discussed by Doug on May 20, EPA has recently released another document with implications for selection of an appropriate