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Toxics Cleanup Program

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Sediment Management Rule, Policy, and Guidance


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

Sediment Management Guidance

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

Guidance.  An update to the Sediment Cleanup Users Manual II (SCUM II) guidance document to reflect the 2013 revisions to Part V of the SMS rule.

  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 final SCUM II guidance reflect these new sediment cleanup provisions, updated science, and best management practices. SCUM II is intended as guidance for Ecology sediment specialists and 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.

    • SCUM II Technical Workshops

      Ecology convened three technical workshops on July 17, July 31 and August 7, 2014 as a collaborative opportunity to work with interested parties to help Ecology resolve specific issues Ecology identified that were raised during the public comment period.  The workshops were held in Ecology's Bellevue office from 9 AM - 1 PM.  Below are materials for the workshops:

    • July 17, 2014 Workshop:
    • July 31, 2014 Workshop:
    • Agenda
    • Presentation (final)
    • Workshop Notes
    • August 7, 2014 Workshop:
    • Agenda
    • Presentation (final)
    • Workshop Notes

    Ecology considered the public comments and feedback received during the workshops to make decisions and finalize the guidance.

  1. Wood Waste Cleanup 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 four areas of Puget Sound: Port Gardner Bay in the Everett area, North Olympic Peninsula in the Port Angeles area, the Lower Duwamish Waterway, and Bellingham Bay. Read more information about our regional background work.

To review documents related to the regional background work visit:

Email announcements

The MTCA-SMS-RULEMAKING-LISTSERV will continue providing updates on the Sediment Management Standards implementation efforts. To receive updates please sign up for e-mail announcements.  If you are already subscribed you will continue to receive announcements on the SMS rulemaking effort, plus occasional related information.

Other Links of Interest


Chance Asher
Sediment Policy Program Lead
(360) 407-6914

Chapter 173-204 WAC Sediment Management Standards


Sediment Cleanup Users Manual II

Bellingham Bay Regional Background

Lake Washington Area Regional Background

Port Angeles Regional Background

Port Gardner Regional Background

Wood Waste Cleanup Guidance


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