Managing Our Water photo identifier

Managing our Water

Protecting our Water

Partnerships are one of the most productive ways to protect water quality and quantity. Ecology works with local groups to develop plans for watersheds. We also work with cities and counties to develop water cleanup plans for local rivers and lakes.

As a regulatory agency, we issue permits to industries, businesses, construction sites, and municipalities before they can discharge wastewater or stormwater into our state waters. The permits set limits on discharges, management actions, or both to prevent their discharged water from harming our lakes, rivers, streams and marine waters. Through water right permits, we can help regulate the amount of water used as well as protect it from pollutants.

  • Water Quality Standards Rulemaking - Sets standards for how clean our waters need to be and limits to pollution discharge, as required by the The Clean Water Act.
  • Watershed Management Information by Watershed - A "watershed" is an area draining into a river, lake, or other waterbody. Ecology and other state natural resources agencies have divided the state into 62 "Water Resource Inventory Areas" (WRIAs) to delineate the state's major watersheds.
  • Assessment (TMDLs) and Improvement Projects - Water Quality Improvement Projects, or TMDLs (Total Maximum Daily Loads), protect water quality by managing the amount of pollution waters can handle and still meet water meet water quality standards.
  • Ground and Surface Water Quality Standards - Numeric standards and designated uses for ground and surface waters protect the beneficial water uses by setting pollution limits and providing goals for water clean-up projects.
  • Reclaimed Water - Reclaiming, or reusing highly treated wastewater, means using human-engineered treatment systems to speed up nature’s restoration of water quality.
  • Water Quality Stories - Covering both small- and large-scale projects that target water quality issues. These stories provide a wealth of information associated with novel project designs, funding ideas, and useful resource suggestions.
  • Point Source Permits - National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), part of the Clean Water Act, requires that everyone who discharges into the water get a discharge permit.
  • Focus on Field Tickets - Inspectors from the Washington Department of Ecology Water Quality Program now carry ticket books and can issue $500 to $3,000 fines for water quality violations at sites covered by the state's Industrial, Construction, and Sand & Gravel Stormwater General Permits.
  • Aquatic Plants & Lakes - Information about managing aquatic weeds and algae.