WDFW launches expedited rule-making to amend hydraulic code rules

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is launching expedited rule-making this month to amend hydraulic code rules that govern the Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) permitting process designed to protect fish in Washington waters.

Washington law requires people planning hydraulic projects in or near state waters to get an HPA from WDFW. The approval is intended to protect fish from construction and other work that uses, diverts, obstructs, or changes the natural flow or bed of state waters.

The proposed amendment would bring the rules in alignment with Senate Bill 5381, which passed during the 2021 Legislature and went into effect in July 2021. The bill included changes to the law that establishes the Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) permitting program and the Fish Habitat Enhancement Project (FHEP) streamlined permitting process described in RCW 77.55.181. The proposed rule updates processing procedures for Washington State Department of Transportation fish passage projects. The permits themselves will remain unchanged.

Part of the expedited rule-making process is a 45-day waiting period before the proposed rule may be adopted. During this period, any party may submit a written objection to the expedited process. If WDFW receives an objection, then rule making will revert from expedited to the standard rule making process as described in the Administrative Procedures Act (Chapter 34.05 RCW). Objections may be sent to Rules.coordinator@dfw.wa.gov.

Following the completion of the waiting period, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider the proposed rule during its May 12, 2023 meeting. More information will be posted to the Commission webpage as it becomes available.

More information about HPAs is available on WDFW’s website.