Dredge-and-Fill Permit Updates In Washington State
In response to the recent Water of the United States (WOTUS) ruling, Washington Department of Ecology (WDOE) is requesting input on the development of a Washington State wetland dredge-and-fill permit program. In Washington State, wetlands are protected by several local, state, and federal laws. Over the past decade, regulation of dredge-and-fill of wetlands under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 Rivers and Harbors Act have been administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with the basis of their jurisdiction over wetlands being defined under the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) definition. In January 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency that led to the redefining of waters regulated as WOTUS.
The WOTUS definition excludes federal protection for wetlands with no surface water connection to other surface waters and shifts oversight to state and/or local jurisdictions. In anticipation of less federal oversight over wetlands in Washington State, WDOE has initiated a request to the state legislature to develop a streamlined dredge-and-fill permit program. In the past, non-federally regulated wetlands in Washington State required an Administrative Order through WDOE to permit impacts under the state Water Pollution Control Act. The proposed dredge-and-fill permit program will be designed to provide a more streamlined permit pathway to wetland impacts in Washington State while ensuring protection of our water under the Clean Water Act. While this is still early in the process, Raedeke Associates, Inc. staff will be actively involved in upcoming community outreach for the WDOE wetland dredge-and-fill permit development. More to come.