Fish passage rule making

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) started the process to create new rules to implement elements of Engrossed Substitute House Bill (ESHB) 1109. This bill became effective July 28, 2019 and amended the law governing Construction Projects in State Waters - Chapter 77.57 Revised Code of Washington (RCW), better known as the Fishways, Flow, and Screening Statutes.

This rulemaking effort is rooted in recommendations from the Southern Resident Orca Task Force. In 2018, the task force published its report identifying lack of prey as a key threat to Southern Resident Orcas. Recommendation three of the report endorsed agencies to apply and enforce laws that protect habitat. Specifically, the task force noted that the governor should direct WDFW to develop rules to fully implement RCW 77.57.

The main goals are to develop a new rule section under title 220 Washington Administrative Code (WAC) as necessary to implement chapter 77.57 RCW.

These rules will:

  • Codify standards used by WDFW for
    • Instream structures;
    • Screening and diversions; and
    • Climate adaptive water crossing structures.
  • Address compliance issues for instream structures and screening, providing
    • Steps to bring owners into compliance; and
    • The effects of non-compliance.

Get involved

You can participate in development of the proposed rules by submitting your comments by email to fish-passage-rules@PublicInput.comonline, or by phone (855-925-2801 project code 4535). Reference the final draft of the rules. The Department is accepting comments through October 30, 2023. 

Public hearing

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to hear a briefing and hold a public hearing on the proposed rules during its October 26-28 hybrid meeting in Olympia. The Commission will consider the proposed rules at its November 17 hybrid meeting. More information will be posted to the Commission webpage as it becomes available.

SEPA review
The proposed rules are also undergoing a state environmental review process, referred to as a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review. More information is available on our SEPA webpage

Rulemaking supporting material

Learn more


Gabrielle Stilwater, Fish Passage Policy and Rules Coordinator:

Rule Making – Materials and Timeline

Dates Actions
February 2021

Share first draft of fish passage rule language


Public meeting - Feb. 25, 2021, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Watch the recorded video

July 2020

Announce rule making and invite comments about scoping rules on this topic.

Public meeting - July 29, 2020, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Watch the recorded video