Hydraulic Code Rule Making 220-660 WAC

2019 HPA Suction Dredge Rules were adopted for implementation starting November 1, 2019

The Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted new rules requiring standard written Hydraulic Project Approvals (HPAs) for suction dredging in Washington effective November 1, 2019.  Beginning on that date, suction dredgers will no longer be able to conduct suction dredging activities under the Gold and Fish pamphlet.  The new rules also require suction dredgers to begin recording their suction dredging activities on January 1, 2020, and submit annual reports each year.  The first annual report is due February 1, 2021.

WDFW will provide additional information for how to apply for a suction dredging HPA by September 2019. 

The rules also require that all suction dredge equipment used in any water of the state must be decontaminated according to department specification prior to use in a different water of the state.  Information about decontamination methods can be found on the WDFW Aquatic Invasive Species web page

Suction dredge equipment that has been used in waters outside of Washington State must be inspected for the presence of aquatic invasive species by an authorized department employee or agent before being used in waters of the state.  Anyone bringing suction dredge equipment from outside Washington is urged to call the department's AIS hotline (1-888-WDFW-AIS) to determine how to receive an inspection before entering the state.  Aquatic Invasive Species prevention measures for suction dredges become effective November 1, 2019.

Final rule making documents

Why new rules?

On April 14, 2018, the Fish and Wildlife Commission directed WDFW to begin rulemaking to require individual HPA permits for all suction dredge mineral prospecting.  

What are the proposed changes?

WDFW's goal is to modify rules to authorize suction dredging activities through standard HPAs rather than under the Gold and Fish Pamphlet.

WDFW's objectives in this rulemaking include:

  • Develop an individual HPA application method for suction dredging that is streamlined;
  • Develop application and reporting methods to enable WDFW to determine:
    • the number of prospectors engaged in suction dredging and
    • where and how much suction dredging occurs; and
  • Identify methods to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species through the movement of suction dredging equipment into and around the state.

Steps in the suction dredge rule making process:

  1. File a pre-proposal statement of inquiry (CR-101) with the Washington State Code Reviser (5/8/2018)
  2. Host 4 public meetings to explain the scope of rule making and discuss with the public: (Summer 2018)
    • Meetings were held in July 2018: July 16 - Wenatchee; July 17 - Spokane Valley; July 19 - Olympia; July 25 - Everett. Materials and summary available upon request.
  3. Develop the language for specific rule change proposals (Fall 2018)
  4. Make a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) threshold determination
  5. File a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (CR-102) with the Washington State Code Reviser
  6. Provide a Draft regulatory analysis document, including:
    • A preliminary cost-benefit analysis
    • Least Burdensome Alternative analysis; and
    • Determinations for Significant Legislative Rules
  7. Provide a Draft Small Business Economic Impact Statement
  8. Accept public comments from February 25, 2019 through 5pm Monday April 8, 2019.
  9. Fish and Wildlife Commission held a public hearing Friday, April 5 at the Natural Resources Building in Olympia, WA., to listen to oral public testimony.
  10. Staff prepared recommendations for the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
  11. The Commission is scheduled to adopt rules on May 31, 201
  12. The effective date of rules, if adopted, will be identified at the time of adoption.

Updates will be posted here as they become available.

For Further Information

Randi Thurston,
Protection Division Manager