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Toxics Cleanup Program

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Sediment Management Standards, Chapter 173-204 WAC


The Sediment Management Standards (SMS) Chapter 173-204 WAC is the rule we use to manage sediment in the state of Washington. The SMS rule is used to:

  • Set standards for sediment quality (there are both numeric and narrative standards);
  • Apply the standards to reduce pollutant discharges; and
  • Provide a decision process for the cleanup of contaminated sediment sites.

The goal of the SMS rule is to reduce and ultimately eliminate adverse effects on biological resources and significant threats to human health from surface sediment contamination. The SMS rule was originally adopted in 1991 with subsequent amendments in 1995 and 2013.

Learn more about the SMS rule

2013 SMS Rule Amendments

Ecology adopted the revised Sediment Management Standards rule on February 22, 2013. The new rule became effective on September 1, 2013. 

The adopted amendments:

  1. Integrate the SMS and Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA), Chapter 173-340 WAC, cleanup requirements where appropriate.
  2. Clarify requirements for protection of human health from sediment contamination.
  3. Clarify requirements for protection of higher trophic level species from sediment contamination.
  4. Promulgate numeric chemical and biological criteria for freshwater sediment to protect the benthic community.
  5. Clarify requirements for coordinating source control and cleanup actions at cleanup sites.

Learn more about the 2013 update of the SMS rule and view supporting documentation:
2013 SMS Rule Making and the 2013 SMS Rule Adoption Documents

SMS Rule Implementation and Guidance Development

Ecology is currently developing tools to support implementation of the revised rule. This includes:

Guidance. Updating the Sediment Cleanup Users Manual II (SCUM II) guidance document to reflect the 2013 revisions to Part V of the SMS rule.   The draft is now available for public review and comment for 75 days.  The public comment period will end May 16, 2014.

  1. Sediment Cleanup Users Manual II

    • What is SCUM II?

      The majority of the SMS rule revisions focused on Part V, Sediment Cleanup Standards of the SMS rule. The updates to the draft SCUM II reflect these new sediment cleanup provisions, updated science, and best management practices. The draft SCUM II is intended as guidance for Ecology site managers, potentially liable persons, and technical consultants on how to conduct cleanup of contaminated sediment sites with a focus on how to implement the Part V provisions of the SMS rule. However, SCUM II is not intended as comprehensive guidance for implementing the entirety of the SMS rule, which includes Parts I – IV and VI.

    • How can comments be submitted?

      Ecology encourages and welcomes your feedback on the work we’re doing. Access the draft SCUM II.
      Comments may be submitted in letter or template format and should be sent to  The public comment period will close on May 16, 2014.

    • What happens after the SCUM II public comment period?

      Ecology plans to convene technical workshops around late spring/early summer 2014  to work with interested parties on resolving issues raised during the public comment period. We anticipate convening approximately three 4–hour workshops, each with a specific subject area or with related subject areas. We will consider the public comments and feedback received during the workshops to make decisions and finalize the guidance. We anticipate the final guidance document to be complete in fall 2014.
  1. Wood Waste Guidance

    Updating the Wood Waste Guidance to reflect the 2013 SMS rule changes. This guidance provides technical detail for the identification and assessment of sediment contamination with wood waste. Access the guidance.

  2. Other Sediment Cleanup Publications

Regional Background.. Establishing Regional Background for sediment in select embayments in Puget Sound.  A key provision in the 2013 SMS rule is the concept of regional background in sediment and establishing regional background is a high priority for Ecology. Regional background can be used to determine the upper cap for sediment cleanup levels if it is established as the cleanup screening level, inform cleanup decisions, and identify potential areas of sediment contamination that may require cleanup.

Ecology is currently working to establish regional background in three areas of Puget Sound: Port Gardner Bay in the Everett area, North Olympic Peninsula in the Port Angeles area, and the Lower Duwamish Waterway. Read more information about our regional background work.

To review documents related to the regional background work visit:

Other Links of Interest

Contact Information:

Chance Asher
(360) 407-6914

Chapter 173-204 WAC Sediment Management Standards