|CLEAN STREAM AND SALMON HABITAT INITIATIVE
ACT Relating to protection and restoration of water quality and salmon and shellfish
habitat; adding a new chapter to Title 90 RCW.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. Legislative finding and declaration. (1)
Washingtons waters and fisheries resources are critical to the economic and
environmental well-being of this states citizens but the states water and
fisheries resources are seriously threatened from impacts caused from agricultural
practices. The legislature finds these problems pose great uncertainty for its citizens
and in particular for those who depend on these resources for their economic and
environmental well-being, and that they increase the risk of federal or judicial
interventions stemming from noncompliance with state and federal laws.
(2) The legislature hereby finds: (a) Streamside buffers are essential for the
protection and restoration of salmon and shellfish habitat, other fisheries resources, and
water quality, (b) In their natural state, streamside buffers provide many valuable social
and ecological services, including: controlling erosion, flooding, and stormwater runoff,
protecting water resources by filtering pollutants, providing for groundwater recharge,
and providing for habitat for many species of fish, shellfish, and wildlife, (c)
Streamside protection is currently provided on forestry and urban lands through the Forest
Practices and Growth Management Acts, whereas, past and current farm and agricultural land
use practices continue to destroy or severely impact natural streamside buffers, salmon
habitat, water quality and fisheries resources, and (d) Buffers adjacent to waters of the
state are essential to protect and restore the productive capacity of salmonid and
shellfish habitat and survival of the fisheries resources;
(2) The legislature declares that all waters of the state as defined by WAC 222-16
shall be protected from water pollution caused by livestock and certain agricultural
NEW SECTION. Sec. 2. DEFINITIONS.--Whenever used in this act, the
(1) "Agricultural activities" means the production of crops or livestock,
farming, ranching, or grazing of domestic animals.
(2) "Department" means the Washington department of ecology.
(3) "Director" means the director of the Washington department of ecology.
(4) "Farm and agricultural lands" mean the same as defined in RCW
(5) "Livestock" mean the same as defined in RCW 16.50.110.
(6) "Person" means any individual, partnership, private, public, or municipal
corporation, county, the department or other state or local governmental entity, or
association of individuals of whatever nature.
(7) "Streamside buffer" means the area adjacent to aquatic systems with
flowing or intermittent waters, that contains both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems that
mutually influence each other. For purposes of this chapter, streamside buffer widths
shall be consistent with Ecosystem Standard B14A as approved in 1994 by the Washington
State Conservation Commission, unless otherwise administratively determined by the
department, in consultation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, utilizing the best
NEW SECTION. Sec. 3. GENERAL PROVISIONS.-- (1) Abrogation and
Greater Restrictions. It is not intended that this chapter repeal, abrogate, or impair any
existing regulations, easements, covenants, or deed restrictions. However, where this
chapter imposes greater restriction, the provisions of this chapter shall prevail.
(2) Interpretation. This chapter shall be held to be minimum requirements in their
interpretation and application and shall be liberally construed to serve the purposes of
this chapter. However, if any provision of any other chapter of state or general purpose
local government conflicts with this chapter, that which provides more protection to water
quality and streamside buffers applies unless specifically provided otherwise in this
(3) The department shall establish administrative rules as necessary to implement this
NEW SECTION. Sec. 4. RESTRICTED AND ALLOWED ACTIVITIES.--(1)
Restricted Activities. Except as provided under subsection (2) and (3) of this section, a
person shall not allow livestock or conduct agricultural activities on farm and
agricultural lands in the surface waters of the state or within the streamside buffers.
(2) The director may allow an exemption for the restrictions under subsection (1) of
this section if the director finds that:
(a) The livestock are located at a livestock crossing or watering areas that are
designed, constructed, operated and maintained to minimize to the fullest extent
practicable water pollution or impacts to streamside buffers caused by livestock;
(b) The livestock or agricultural practices do not contribute to a violation of, or
impairment of, or prevent the maintenance and recovery of the applicable water quality
standards and streamside buffer functions; or
(c) An approved state or federal resource management plan that has attained state water
quality standards and provides for the following streamside buffer functions: recruitment
of large woody debris to the stream, shade, bank integrity and root reinforcement, and
(3) The restrictions shall not apply to the following activities:
(a) The harvesting of wild crops in a manner that is not injurious to natural
reproduction of such crops and provided the harvesting does not require tilling of soil,
planting of crops, or alteration of the streamside buffer by changing existing topography,
water conditions, or water resources;
(b) Forest practices governed under chapter 76.09 RCW and its rules, including the
cutting of existing trees cultivated by agricultural methods in growing cycles shorter
than ten years, except for those practices that convert forest land to another use;
(c) Normal maintenance, minor modifications, repair, or operation of existing
serviceable structures, drainage ditches, buildings, or facilities within a buffer zone
where operations do not adversely impact streamside buffer functions provided that written
notice is submitted to the department at least ten days prior to the commencement of such
work and impacts are minimized;
(d) Existing non-commercial lawn and garden care, and maintenance;
(e) Maintenance and operation of existing orchards; or
(f) Any incident in which livestock gain access to the waters of the state or
designated streamside buffers accidentally or by some manner not within the control of the
livestock owner provided the situation is promptly corrected and action is taken to
prevent future incidents from occurring again.
(4) Exceptions. (a) If application of this chapter would deny all reasonable use of the
property, the landowner may apply for a reasonable use exception the department.
(b) The department shall review the application in consultation with the attorney
general and shall conduct a public hearing. The department shall make a final decision
based on the following criteria:
(i) the application of this chapter would deny all reasonable use of the property;
(ii) there is no other reasonable use with less impact on the streamside buffer;
(iii) the proposed activitiy or development does not pose an unreasonable threat to the
public health, safety, or welfare on or off the proposed site and is consistent with the
general purposes of this chapter and the public interest; and
(iv) any alterations permitted to the streamside buffer shall be the minimum necessary
to allow for reasonable use of the property; and any authorized alteration to the
streamside buffer under this chapter shall be subject to conditions established by the
department in consultation with the department of fish and wildlife, including, but not
limited to, mitigation under an approved mitigation plan.
NEW SECTION. Sec.5. ENFORCEMENT.--A person may commence a civil
action against any person, including the state of Washington, alleged in violation of
section 3 of this act. The action is subject to the procedural requirements and
substantive limitations applicable to metals mining and milling law violations in RCW
NEW SECTION. Sec. 6. COOPERATIVE RESTORATION AND ENHANCEMENT.--(1) The
department shall assist those landowners who will voluntarily restore and enhance
streamside functions. The department shall provide coordination for conservation districts
and regional fisheries enhancement and other local conservation groups who will assist
landowners with voluntary and cooperative restoration and enhancement projects.
(2) Any person who will voluntarily restore and enhance streamside functions may be
eligible to obtain funds from those sources intended to provide habitat, water quality and
resource conservation benefits. The department shall assist those landowners in the
seeking necessary funding.
(3) By December 31, 1997, the department, in cooperation with the department of
agriculture and conservation commission, shall develop recommendations for the legislature
that will provide additional tax and other incentives for those landowners who will
actively restore and enhance streamside functions.
NEW SECTION. Sec.7. SEVERABILITY.--If any provision of this act or
its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or
the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected.
NEW SECTION. Sec.8. This act is necessary for the preservation of the
public resources, peace, health, safety, or support of the state government and its
existing public institutions, and shall take effect July 1, 1998.
NEW SECTION. Sec.9. CAPTIONS NOT LAW. Section headings used in
this chapter are not any part of the law.
NEW SECTION. Sec.10. Sections 1 through 8 of this act shall constitute a
new chapter in Title 90 RCW.