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New Classification and Protections for Outstanding Resource Waters Proposed

Department of Ecology News Release – July 18, 2023

New status, protections proposed for Soap Lake and the Cascade, Green, and Napeequa rivers

OLYMPIA  – In what would be a first for Washington state, the Department of Ecology is proposing to classify four water bodies as “Outstanding Resource Waters” – a special designation under the federal Clean Water Act that carries extra water quality protections and recognition.

The four water bodies are:

  • Soap Lake in Grant County
  • The upper watershed of the Cascade River in Skagit County
  • The upper watershed of the Green River (near Mount St Helens) in Skamania County
  • The Napeequa River in Chelan County

Outstanding Resource Waters have exceptional water quality, ecological and recreational values, or unique attributes that distinguish them among state water bodies and warrant special protection. These waters are assigned additional protections to prevent further degradation except for certain temporary projects or discharges, or to protect public health or property in an emergency.

“The Outstanding Resource Water designation is a way for us to recognize exceptional waters in our state that deserve special protection,” said Vince McGowan, Ecology’s water quality program manager. “We appreciate the work of the nominators and look forward to hearing more from communities near these water bodies as we consider this designation.”

The proposal comes after Ecology received Outstanding Resource Water nominations in 2021, then conducted additional research that found each water body met one or more eligibility criteria.

Ecology is accepting public comments on the proposed Outstanding Resource Waters designations through Sept. 27, 2023. You can make comments online here.

Read the full news release here.

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