173-201A-250  <<  173-201A-260 >>   173-201A-300

Natural conditions and other water quality criteria and applications.

(1) Natural and irreversible human conditions.
(a) It is recognized that portions of many water bodies cannot meet the assigned criteria due to the natural conditions of the water body. When a water body does not meet its assigned criteria due to natural climatic or landscape attributes, the natural conditions constitute the water quality criteria.
(b) When a water body does not meet its assigned criteria due to human structural changes that cannot be effectively remedied (as determined consistent with the federal regulations at 40 C.F.R. 131.10), then alternative estimates of the attainable water quality conditions, plus any further allowances for human effects specified in this chapter for when natural conditions exceed the criteria, may be used to establish an alternative criteria for the water body (see WAC 173-201A-430 and 173-201A-440).
(2) Toxics and aesthetics criteria. The following narrative criteria apply to all existing and designated uses for fresh and marine water:
(a) Toxic, radioactive, or deleterious material concentrations must be below those which have the potential, either singularly or cumulatively, to adversely affect characteristic water uses, cause acute or chronic conditions to the most sensitive biota dependent upon those waters, or adversely affect public health (see WAC 173-201A-240, toxic substances, and 173-201A-250, radioactive substances).
(b) Aesthetic values must not be impaired by the presence of materials or their effects, excluding those of natural origin, which offend the senses of sight, smell, touch, or taste (see WAC 173-201A-230 for guidance on establishing lake nutrient standards to protect aesthetics).
(3) Procedures for applying water quality criteria. In applying the appropriate water quality criteria for a water body, the department will use the following procedure:
(a) The department will establish water quality requirements for water bodies, in addition to those specifically listed in this chapter, on a case-specific basis where determined necessary to provide full support for designated and existing uses.
(b) Upstream actions must be conducted in manners that meet downstream water body criteria. Except where and to the extent described otherwise in this chapter, the criteria associated with the most upstream uses designated for a water body are to be applied to headwaters to protect nonfish aquatic species and the designated downstream uses.
(c) Where multiple criteria for the same water quality parameter are assigned to a water body to protect different uses, the most stringent criterion for each parameter is to be applied.
(d) At the boundary between water bodies protected for different uses, the more stringent criteria apply.
(e) In brackish waters of estuaries, where different criteria for the same use occurs for fresh and marine waters, the decision to use the fresh water or the marine water criteria must be selected and applied on the basis of vertically averaged daily maximum salinity, referred to below as "salinity."
(i) The fresh water criteria must be applied at any point where ninety-five percent of the salinity values are less than or equal to one part per thousand, except that the fresh water criteria for bacteria applies when the salinity is less than ten parts per thousand; and
(ii) The marine water criteria must apply at all other locations where the salinity values are greater than one part per thousand, except that the marine criteria for bacteria applies when the salinity is ten parts per thousand or greater.
(f) Numeric criteria established in this chapter are not intended for application to human created waters managed primarily for the removal or containment of pollution. This special provision also includes private farm ponds created from upland sites that did not incorporate natural water bodies.
(i) Waters covered under this provision must be managed so that:
(A) They do not create unreasonable risks to human health or uses of the water; and
(B) Discharges from these systems meet down gradient surface and ground water quality standards.
(ii) This provision does not apply to waterways designed and managed primarily to convey or transport water from one location to another, rather than to remove pollution en route.
(g) When applying the numeric criteria established in this chapter, the department will give consideration to the precision and accuracy of the sampling and analytical methods used, as well as the existing conditions at the time.
(h) The analytical testing methods for these numeric criteria must be in accordance with the "Guidelines Establishing Test Procedures for the Analysis of Pollutants" (40 C.F.R. Part 136) or superseding methods published. The department may also approve other methods following consultation with adjacent states and with the approval of the USEPA.
(i) The primary means for protecting water quality in wetlands is through implementing the antidegradation procedures described in Part III of this chapter.
(i) In addition to designated uses, wetlands may have existing beneficial uses that are to be protected that include ground water exchange, shoreline stabilization, and stormwater attenuation.
(ii) Water quality in wetlands is maintained and protected by maintaining the hydrologic conditions, hydrophytic vegetation, and substrate characteristics necessary to support existing and designated uses.
(iii) Wetlands must be delineated using the Washington State Wetlands Identification and Delineation Manual, in accordance with WAC 173-22-035.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 90.48.035. WSR 11-09-090 (Order 10-10), § 173-201A-260, filed 4/20/11, effective 5/21/11. Statutory Authority: Chapters 90.48 and 90.54 RCW. WSR 03-14-129 (Order 02-14), § 173-201A-260, filed 7/1/03, effective 8/1/03.]
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