Memorandum to Environmental Quality Commission (Interpretive ruling)


This memo from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to the Environmental Quality Commission was written in response to the revisions by US EPA on the definition of Waters of the United States and states’ issuance of CWA Section 401 certifications under the “Navigable Waters Protection Rule.” The Environmental Quality Commission is DEQ’s formal policy and rulemaking body. The commission must adopt rules in order for them to become effective.

DEQ reiterated that “existing state law prohibits causing pollution of any waters of the state or discharging wastes in violation of water quality standards in the absence of authorization from DEQ.”

“For projects with no federal jurisdiction, DEQ is issuing Mutual Agreement Orders to applicants, which is substantively similar to the review that would otherwise occur as part of the Section 401 water quality certification.”

The memo also states that “Based on Oregon’s more comprehensive water quality laws, DEQ has broad state authority to regulate and protect surface waters that may no longer be under federal jurisdiction, and is evaluating revising its regulations to create a process that ensures that waters of the state remain protected where there are discharges to non-WOTUS surface waters that do not reach a navigable water.”

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