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A Pilot Study of Hydraulic Permit Compliance, Implementation, and Effectiveness in Region 6

Category: Habitat - Hydraulic Project Approval

Date Published:  2007

Number of Pages: 28

Author(s): Timothy Quinn, Stephen Kalinowski, Robert Bicknell, Craig Olds, Margie Schirato, David Price, Chris Byrnes, David Kloempkin, Robert Barnard

INTRODUCTION:

The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) directs the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (hereafter Department) to “preserve, protect, perpetuate, and manage” the fish and wildlife species of the state as its paramount responsibility (RCW 77.04.012). To help achieve that goal, the state Legislature passed a law now known as the "Hydraulic Code" (chapter 77.55 RCW) in 1949. This law was designed to protect public fish resources by requiring a Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) “permit” before conducting activities in fresh and salt waters of the state. Specifically, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), who administers the Hydraulic Code, regulates work that “uses, obstructs, diverts or changes the natural flow or bed of state waters for the protection of fish life”.

The Department reviews and issues approximately 5,000 HPA permits per year covering a wide range of activities. All HPA permits are issued with provisions to protect public resources. These provisions are consistent with Best Available Science as informed by comprehensive literature reviews and by experience gained by Department employees during the course of providing technical assistance, particularly in the area of culvert design. However, the Department has not had sufficient resources to conduct monitoring and thus there has been no formal adaptive management procedure to guide the HPA program through time. The work described here is the first attempt to develop a formal process to systematically review compliance and effectiveness of the HPA program.