CCLME.ORG - Sepa rules Department of Ecology
Loading (50 kb)...'
Washington Regulations
Chapter 197-11 WAC Sepa rules - Department of Ecology

Last Update: 8/1/03

197-11-748 Environmentally sensitive area. [Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. 84-05-020 (Order DE 83-39), 197-11-748, filed 2/10/84, effective 4/4/84.] Repealed by 95-07-023 (Order 94-22), filed 3/6/95, effective 4/6/95. Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110.

Reviser's note: Part one subchapter caption has been provided by the code reviser's office.


These rules are promulgated under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), chapter 43.21C RCW. RCW 43.21C.110 specifies the content of these rules and grants authority for promulgation. As required in RCW 43.21C.095, these rules shall be given substantial deference in the interpretation of SEPA.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. 84-05-020 (Order DE 83-39), 197-11-010, filed 2/10/84, effective 4/4/84. Formerly chapter 197-10 WAC.]


(1) The purpose of these rules is to establish uniform requirements for compliance with SEPA. Each agency must have its own SEPA procedures consistent with these statewide rules. The effective date of these rules is stated in WAC 197-11-955.

(2) These rules replace the previous guidelines in chapter 197-10 WAC.

(3) The provisions of these rules and the act must be read together as a whole in order to comply with the spirit and letter of the law.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. 84-05-020 (Order DE 83-39), 197-11-020, filed 2/10/84, effective 4/4/84.]


(1) The policies and goals set forth in SEPA are supplementary to existing agency authority.

(2) Agencies shall to the fullest extent possible:

(a) Interpret and administer the policies, regulations, and laws of the state of Washington in accordance with the policies set forth in SEPA and these rules.

(b) Find ways to make the SEPA process more useful to decisionmakers and the public; promote certainty regarding the requirements of the act; reduce paperwork and the accumulation of extraneous background data; and emphasize important environmental impacts and alternatives.

(c) Prepare environmental documents that are concise, clear, and to the point, and are supported by evidence that the necessary environmental analyses have been made.

(d) Initiate the SEPA process early in conjunction with other agency operations to avoid delay and duplication.

(e) Integrate the requirements of SEPA with existing agency planning and licensing procedures and practices, so that such procedures run concurrently rather than consecutively.

(f) Encourage public involvement in decisions that significantly affect environmental quality.

(g) Identify, evaluate, and require or implement, where required by the act and these rules, reasonable alternatives that would mitigate adverse effects of proposed actions on the environment.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. 84-05-020 (Order DE 83-39), 197-11-030, filed 2/10/84, effective 4/4/84.]


The terms used in these rules are explained in Part Eight, Definitions, WAC 197-11-700 to 197-11-799. This terminology shall be uniform throughout the state as applied to SEPA, chapter 43.21C RCW. References in these rules to WAC 197-11 refer to chapter WAC 197-11 of the Washington Administrative Code (chapter 197-11 WAC).

[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. 84-05-020 (Order DE 83-39), 197-11-040, filed 2/10/84, effective 4/4/84.]


Lead agency.
(1) A lead agency shall be designated when an agency is developing or is presented with a proposal, following the rules beginning at WAC 197-11-922.

(2) The lead agency shall be the agency with main responsibility for complying with SEPA's procedural requirements and shall be the only agency responsible for:

(a) The threshold determination; and

(b) Preparation and content of environmental impact statements.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. 84-05-020 (Order DE 83-39), 197-11-050, filed 2/10/84, effective 4/4/84.]


Timing of the SEPA process.
(1) Integrating SEPA and agency activities. The SEPA process shall be integrated with agency activities at the earliest possible time to ensure that planning and decisions reflect environmental values, to avoid delays later in the process, and to seek to resolve potential problems.

(2) Timing of review of proposals. The lead agency shall prepare its threshold determination and environmental impact statement (EIS), if required, at the earliest possible point in the planning and decision-making process, when the principal features of a proposal and its environmental impacts can be reasonably identified.

(a) A proposal exists when an agency is presented with an application or has a goal and is actively preparing to make a decision on one or more alternative means of accomplishing that goal and the environmental effects can be meaningfully evaluated.

(i) The fact that proposals may require future agency approvals or environmental review shall not preclude current consideration, as long as proposed future activities are specific enough to allow some evaluation of their probable environmental impacts.

(ii) Preliminary steps or decisions are sometimes needed before an action is sufficiently definite to allow meaningful environmental analysis.

(b) Agencies shall identify the times at which the environmental review shall be conducted either in their procedures or on a case-by-case basis. Agencies may also organize environmental review in phases, as specified in WAC 197-11-060(5).

(c) Appropriate consideration of environmental information shall be completed before an agency commits to a particular course of action (WAC 197-11-070).

(d) A GMA county/city is subject to additional timing requirements (see WAC 197-11-310).

(3) Applications and rule making. The timing of environmental review for applications and for rule making shall be as follows:

(a) At the latest, the lead agency shall begin environmental review, if required, when an application is complete. The lead agency may initiate review earlier and may have informal conferences with applicants. A final threshold determination or FEIS shall normally precede or accompany the final staff recommendation, if any, in a quasi-judicial proceeding on an application. Agency procedures shall specify the type and timing of environmental documents that shall be submitted to planning commissions and similar advisory bodies (WAC 197-11-906).

(b) For rule making, the DNS or DEIS shall normally accompany the proposed rule. An FEIS, if any, shall be issued at least seven days before adoption of a final rule (WAC 197-11-460(4)).

(4) Applicant review at conceptual stage. In general, agencies should adopt procedures for environmental review and for preparation of EISs on private proposals at the conceptual stage rather than the final detailed design stage.

(a) If an agency's only action is a decision on a building permit or other license that requires detailed project plans and specifications, agencies shall provide applicants with the opportunity for environmental review under SEPA prior to requiring applicants to submit such detailed project plans and specifications.

(b) Agencies may specify the amount of detail needed from applicants for such early environmental review, consistent with WAC 197-11-100 and 197-11-335, in their SEPA or permit procedures.

(c) This subsection does not preclude agencies or applicants from preliminary discussions or exploration of ideas and options prior to commencing formal environmental review.

(5) An overall decision to proceed with a course of action may involve a series of actions or decisions by one or more agencies. If several agencies have jurisdiction over a proposal, they should coordinate their SEPA processes wherever possible. The agencies shall comply with lead agency determination requirements in WAC 197-11-050 and 197-11-922.

(6) To meet the requirement to insure that environmental values and amenities are given appropriate consideration along with economic and technical considerations, environmental documents and analyses shall be circulated and reviewed with other planning documents to the fullest extent possible.

(7) For their own public proposals, lead agencies may extend the time limits prescribed in these rules.

[Statutory Authority: 1995 c 347 (ESHB 1724) and RCW 43.21C.110. 97-21-030 (Order 95-16), 197-11-055, filed 10/10/97, effective 11/10/97. Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. 84-05-020 (Order DE 83-39), 197-11-055, filed 2/10/84, effective 4/4/84.]


Content of environmental review.
(1) Environmental review consists of the range of proposed activities, alternatives, and impacts to be analyzed in an environmental document, in accordance with SEPA's goals and policies. This section specifies the content of environmental review common to all environmental documents required under SEPA.

(2) The content of environmental review:

(a) Depends on each particular proposal, on an agency's existing planning and decision-making processes, and on the time when alternatives and impacts can be most meaningfully evaluated;

(b) For the purpose of deciding whether an EIS is required, is specified in the environmental checklist, in WAC 197-11-330 and 197-11-444;

(c) For an environmental impact statement, is considered its "scope" (WAC 197-11-792 and Part Four of these rules);

(d) For any supplemental environmental review, is specified in Part Six.

(3) Proposals.

(a) Agencies shall make certain that the proposal that is the subject of environmental review is properly defined.

(i) Proposals include public projects or proposals by agencies, proposals by applicants, if any, and proposed actions and regulatory decisions of agencies in response to proposals by applicants.

(ii) A proposal by a lead agency or applicant may be put forward as an objective, as several alternative means of accomplishing a goal, or as a particular or preferred course of action.

(iii) Proposals should be described in ways that encourage considering and comparing alternatives. Agencies are encouraged to describe public or nonproject proposals in terms of objectives rather than preferred solutions. A proposal could be described, for example, as "reducing flood damage and achieving better flood control by one or a combination of the following means: Building a new dam; maintenance dredging; use of shoreline and land use controls; purchase of floodprone areas; or relocation assistance."

(b) Proposals or parts of proposals that are related to each other closely enough to be, in effect, a single course of action shall be evaluated in the same environmental document. (Phased review is allowed under subsection (5).) Proposals or parts of proposals are closely related, and they shall be discussed in the same environmental document, if they:

(i) Cannot or will not proceed unless the other proposals (or parts of proposals) are implemented simultaneously with them; or

(ii) Are interdependent parts of a larger proposal and depend on the larger proposal as their justification or for their implementation.

(c) (Optional) Agencies may wish to analyze "similar actions" in a single environmental document.

(i) Proposals are similar if, when viewed with other reasonably foreseeable actions, they have common aspects that provide a basis for evaluating their environmental consequences together, such as common timing, types of impacts, alternatives, or geography. This section does not require agencies or applicants to analyze similar actions in a single environmental document or require applicants to prepare environmental documents on proposals other than their own.

(ii) When preparing environmental documents on similar actions, agencies may find it useful to define the proposals in one of the following ways: (A) Geographically, which may include actions occurring in the same general location, such as a body of water, region, or metropolitan area; or (B) generically, which may include actions which have relevant similarities, such as common timing, impacts, alternatives, methods of implementation, environmental media, or subject matter.

(4) Impacts.

(a) SEPA's procedural provisions require the consideration of "environmental" impacts (see definition of "environment" in WAC 197-11-740 and of "impacts" in WAC 197-11-752), with attention to impacts that are likely, not merely speculative. (See definition of "probable" in WAC 197-11-782 and 197-11-080 on incomplete or unavailable information.)

(b) In assessing the significance of an impact, a lead agency shall not limit its consideration of a proposal's impacts only to those aspects within its jurisdiction, including local or state boundaries (see WAC 197-11-330(3) also).

(c) Agencies shall carefully consider the range of probable impacts, including short-term and long-term effects. Impacts shall include those that are likely to arise or exist over the lifetime of a proposal or, depending on the particular proposal, longer.

(d) A proposal's effects include direct and indirect impacts caused by a proposal. Impacts include those effects resulting from growth caused by a proposal, as well as the likelihood that the present proposal will serve as a precedent for future actions. For example, adoption of a zoning ordinance will encourage or tend to cause particular types of projects or extension of sewer lines would tend to encourage development in previously unsewered areas.

(e) The range of impacts to be analyzed in an EIS (direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts, WAC 197-11-792) may be wider than the impacts for which mitigation measures are required of applicants (WAC 197-11-660). This will depend upon the specific impacts, the extent to which the adverse impacts are attributable to the applicant's proposal, and the capability of applicants or agencies to control the impacts in each situation.

(5) Phased review.

(a) Lead agencies shall determine the appropriate scope and level of detail of environmental review to coincide with meaningful points in their planning and decision-making processes. (See WAC 197-11-055 on timing of environmental review.)

(b) Environmental review may be phased. If used, phased review assists agencies and the public to focus on issues that are ready for decision and exclude from consideration issues already decided or not yet ready. Broader environmental documents may be followed by narrower documents, for example, that incorporate prior general discussion by reference and concentrate solely on the issues specific to that phase of the proposal.

(c) Phased review is appropriate when:

(i) The sequence is from a nonproject document to a document of narrower scope such as a site specific analysis (see, for example, WAC 197-11-443); or

(ii) The sequence is from an environmental document on a specific proposal at an early stage (such as need and site selection) to a subsequent environmental document at a later stage (such as sensitive design impacts).

(d) Phased review is not appropriate when:

(i) The sequence is from a narrow project document to a broad policy document;

(ii) It would merely divide a larger system into exempted fragments or avoid discussion of cumulative impacts; or

(iii) It would segment and avoid present consideration of proposals and their impacts that are required to be evaluated in a single environmental document under WAC 197-11-060 (3)(b) or 197-11-305(1); however, the level of detail and type of environmental review may vary with the nature and timing of proposals and their component parts.

(e) When a lead agency knows it is using phased review, it shall so state in its environmental document.

(f) Agencies shall use the environmental checklist, scoping process, nonproject EISs, incorporation by reference, adoption, and supplemental EISs, and addenda, as appropriate, to avoid duplication and excess paperwork.

(g) Where proposals are related to a large existing or planned network, such as highways, streets, pipelines, or utility lines or systems, the lead agency may analyze in detail the overall network as the present proposal or may select some of the future elements for present detailed consideration. Any phased review shall be logical in relation to the design of the overall system or network, and shall be consistent with this section and WAC 197-11-070.

[Statutory Authority: 1995 c 347 (ESHB 1724) and RCW 43.21C.110. 97-21-030 (Order 95-16), 197-11-060, filed 10/10/97, effective 11/10/97. Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. 84-05-020 (Order DE 83-39), 197-11-060, filed 2/10/84, effective 4/4/84.]


Limitations on actions during SEPA process.
(1) Until the responsible official issues a final determination of nonsignificance or final environmental impact statement, no action concerning the proposal shall be taken by a governmental agency that would:

(a) Have an adverse environmental impact; or

(b) Limit the choice of reasonable alternatives.

(2) In addition, certain DNSs require a fourteen-day period prior to agency action (WAC 197-11-340(2)), and FEISs require a seven-day period prior to agency action (WAC 197-11-460(4)).

(3) In preparing environmental documents, there may be a need to conduct studies that may cause nonsignificant environmental impacts. If such activity is not exempt under WAC 197-11-800(17), the activity may nonetheless proceed if a checklist is prepared and appropriate mitigation measures taken.

(4) This section does not preclude developing plans or designs, issuing requests for proposals (RFPs), securing options, or performing other work necessary to develop an application for a proposal, as long as such activities are consistent with subsection (1).

[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21A.090, chapter 43.21C RCW, RCW 43.21C.035, 43.21C.037, 43.21C.038, 43.21C.0381, 43.21C.0382, 43.21C.0383, 43.21C.110, 43.21C.222. 03-16-067 (Order 02-12), 197-11-070, filed 8/1/03, effective 9/1/03. Statutory Authority: 1995 c 347 (ESHB 1724) and RCW 43.21C.110. 97-21-030 (Order 95-16), 197-11-070, filed 10/10/97, effective 11/10/97. Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. 84-05-020 (Order DE 83-39), 197-11-070, filed 2/10/84, effective 4/4/84.]


Incomplete or unavailable information.
(1) If information on significant adverse impacts essential to a reasoned choice among alternatives is not known, and the costs of obtaining it are not exorbitant, agencies shall obtain and include the information in their environmental documents.

(2) When there are gaps in relevant information or scientific uncertainty concerning significant impacts, agencies shall make clear that such information is lacking or that substantial uncertainty exists.

(3) Agencies may proceed in the absence of vital information as follows:

(a) If information relevant to adverse impacts is essential to a reasoned choice among alternatives, but is not known, and the costs of obtaining it are exorbitant; or

(b) If information relevant to adverse impacts is important to the decision and the means to obtain it are speculative or not known;

Then the agency shall weigh the need for the action with the severity of possible adverse impacts which would occur if the agency were to decide to proceed in the face of uncertainty. If the agency proceeds, it shall generally indicate in the appropriate environmental documents its worst case analysis and the likelihood of occurrence, to the extent this information can reasonably be developed.

(4) Agencies may rely upon applicants to provide information as allowed in WAC 197-11-100.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. 84-05-020 (Order DE 83-39), 197-11-080, filed 2/10/84, effective 4/4/84.]


Supporting documents.
If an agency prepares background or supporting analyses, studies, or technical reports, such material shall be considered part of the agency's record of compliance with SEPA, as long as the preparation and circulation of such material complies with the requirements in these rules for incorporation by reference and the use of supporting documents.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. 84-05-020 (Order DE 83-39), 197-11-090, filed 2/10/84, effective 4/4/84.]


Information required of applicants.
Further information may be required if the responsible official determines that the information initially supplied is not reasonably adequate to fulfill the purposes for which it is required. An applicant may, at any time, voluntarily submit information beyond that required under these rules. An agency is allowed to require information from an applicant in the following areas:

(1) Environmental checklist. An applicant may be required to complete the environmental checklist in WAC 197-11-960 in connection with filing an application (see WAC 197-11-315). Additional information may be required at an applicant's expense, but not until after initial agency review of the checklist (WAC 197-11-315 and 197-11-335).

(2) Threshold determination. Any additional information required by an agency after its initial review of the checklist shall be limited to those elements on the checklist for which the lead agency has determined that information accessible to the agency is not reasonably sufficient to evaluate the environmental impacts of the proposal. The lead agency may require field investigations or research by the applicant reasonably related to determining a proposal's environmental impacts (WAC 197-11-335). An applicant may clarify or revise the checklist at any time prior to a threshold determination. Revision of a checklist after a threshold determination is issued shall be made under WAC 197-11-340 or 197-11-360.

(3) Environmental impact statements. The responsible official may require an applicant to provide relevant information that is not in the possession of the lead agency. Although an agency may include additional analysis not required under SEPA in an EIS (WAC 197-11-440(8), 197-11-448(4) and 197-11-640), the agency shall not require the applicant to furnish such information, under these rules. An applicant shall not be required to provide information requested of a consulted agency until the agency has responded or the time allowed for the consulted agency's response has elapsed, whichever is earlier. Preparation of an EIS by the applicant is in WAC 197-11-420.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. 84-05-020 (Order DE 83-39), 197-11-100, filed 2/10/84, effective 4/4/84.]


GMA project review Reliance on existing plans, laws, and regulations.
(1) In reviewing the environmental impacts of a project and making a threshold determination, a GMA county/city may, at its option, determine that the requirements for environmental analysis, protection, and mitigation measures in the GMA county/city's development regulations and comprehensive plan adopted under chapter 36.70A RCW, and in other applicable local, state, or federal laws or rules, provide adequate analysis of and mitigation for some or all of the specific adverse environmental impacts of the project.

(2) In making the determination under subsection (1) of this section, the GMA county/city shall:

(a) Review the environmental checklist and other information about the project;

(b) Identify the specific probable adverse environmental impacts of the project and determine whether the impacts have been:

(i) Identified in the comprehensive plan, subarea plan, or applicable development regulations through the planning and environmental review process under chapter 36.70A RCW or this chapter, or in other local, state, or federal rules or laws; and

(ii) Adequately addressed in the comprehensive plan, subarea plan, applicable development regulations, or other local, state, or federal rules or laws by:

(A) Avoiding or otherwise mitigating the impacts; or

(B) The legislative body of the GMA county/city designating as acceptable the impacts associated with certain levels of service, land use designations, development standards, or other land use planning required or allowed by chapter 36.70A RCW;

(c) Base or condition approval of the project on compliance with the requirements or mitigation measures in the comprehensive plan, subarea plan, applicable development regulations, or other local, state, or federal rules or laws; and

(d) Place the following statement in the threshold determination if all of a project's impacts are addressed by other applicable laws and no conditions will be required under SEPA: "The lead agency has determined that the requirements for environmental analysis, protection, and mitigation measures have been adequately addressed in the development regulations and comprehensive plan adopted under chapter 36.70A RCW, and in other applicable local, state, or federal laws or rules, as provided by RCW 43.21C.240 and WAC 197-11-158. Our agency will not require any additional mitigation measures under SEPA."

(3) Project specific impacts that have not been adequately addressed as described in subsection (2) of this section might be probable significant adverse environmental impacts requiring additional environmental review. Examples of project specific impacts that may not have been adequately addressed include, but are not limited to, impacts resulting from changed conditions, impacts indicated by new information, impacts not reasonably foreseeable in the GMA planning process, or impacts specifically reserved in a plan EIS for project review.

(4) In deciding whether a project specific adverse environmental impact has been adequately addressed by an existing rule or law of another agency with jurisdiction, the GMA county/city shall consult orally or in writing with that agency and may expressly defer to that agency. In making this deferral, the GMA county/city shall base or condition its project approval on compliance with these other existing rules or laws.

(5) If a GMA county/city's comprehensive plan, subarea plan, or development regulations adequately address some or all of a project's probable specific adverse environmental impacts, as determined under subsections (1) and (2) of this section, the GMA county/city shall not require additional mitigation under this chapter for those impacts.

(6) In making the determination in subsection (1) of this section, nothing in this section requires review of the adequacy of the environmental analysis associated with the comprehensive plans and development regulations that are being relied upon to make that determination.

[Statutory Authority: 1995 c 347 (ESHB 1724) and RCW 43.21C.110. 97-21-030 (Order 95-16), 197-11-158, filed 10/10/97, effective 11/10/97.]


Planned actions Definition and criteria.
(1) Under RCW 43.21C.031, GMA counties/cities may designate a planned action. A planned action means one or more types of project action that:

(a) Are designated planned actions by an ordinance or resolution adopted by a GMA county/city;

(b) Have had the significant environmental impacts adequately addressed in an EIS prepared in conjunction with:

(i) A comprehensive plan or subarea plan adopted under chapter 36.70A RCW; or

(ii) A fully contained community, a master planned resort, a master planned development, or a phased project;

(c) Are subsequent or implementing projects for the proposals listed in (b) of this subsection;

(d) Are located within an urban growth area, as defined in RCW 36.70A.030, or are located within a master planned resort;

(e) Are not essential public facilities, as defined in RCW 36.70A.200; and

(f) Are consistent with a comprehensive plan adopted under chapter 36.70A RCW.

(2) A GMA county/city shall limit planned actions to certain types of development or to specific geographical areas that are less extensive than the jurisdictional boundaries of the GMA county/city.

(3) A GMA county/city may limit a planned action to a time period identified in the EIS or the designating ordinance or resolution adopted under WAC 197-11-168.

[Statutory Authority: 1995 c 347 (ESHB 1724) and RCW 43.21C.110. 97-21-030 (Order 95-16), 197-11-164, filed 10/10/97, effective 11/10/97.]


Ordinances or resolutions designating planned actions Procedures for adoption.
(1) If a GMA county/city chooses to designate a planned action, the planned action must be designated by ordinance or resolution. Public notice and opportunity for public comment shall be provided as part of the agency's process for adopting the ordinance or resolution.

(2) The ordinance or resolution:

(a) Shall describe the type(s) of project action being designated as a planned action;

(b) Shall describe how the planned action meets the criteria in WAC 197-11-164 (including specific reference to the EIS that addresses any significant environmental impacts of the planned action);

(c) Shall include a finding that the environmental impacts of the planned action have been identified and adequately addressed in the EIS, subject to project review under WAC 197-11-172; and

(d) Should identify any specific mitigation measures other than applicable development regulations that must be applied to a project for it to qualify as the planned action.

(3) If the GMA county/city has not limited the planned action to a specific time period identified in the EIS, it may do so in the ordinance or resolution designating the planned action.

(4) The GMA county/city is encouraged to provide a periodic review and update procedure for the planned action to monitor implementation and consider changes as warranted.

[Statutory Authority: 1995 c 347 (ESHB 1724) and RCW 43.21C.110. 97-21-030 (Order 95-16), 197-11-168, filed 10/10/97, effective 11/10/97.]


Planned actions Project review.
(1) Review of a project proposed as a planned action is intended to be simpler and more focused than for other projects. A project proposed as a planned action must qualify as the planned action designated in the planned action ordinance or resolution, and must meet the statutory criteria for a planned action in RCW 43.21C.031. Planned action project review shall include:

(a) Verification that the project meets the description in, and will implement any applicable conditions or mitigation measures identified in, the designating ordinance or resolution; and

(b) Verification that the probable significant adverse environmental impacts of the project have been adequately addressed in the EIS prepared under WAC 197-11-164 (1)(b) through review of an environmental checklist or other project review form as specified in WAC 197-11-315, filed with the project application.

(2)(a) If the project meets the requirements of subsection (1) of this section, the project shall qualify as the planned action designated by the GMA county/city, and a project threshold determination or EIS is not required. Nothing in this section limits a GMA county/city from using this chapter or other applicable law to place conditions on the project in order to mitigate nonsignificant impacts through the normal local project review and permitting process.

(b) If the project does not meet the requirements of subsection (1) of this section, the project is not a planned action and a threshold determination is required. In conducting the additional environmental review under this chapter, the lead agency may use information in existing environmental documents, including the EIS used to designate the planned action (refer to WAC 197-11-330 (2)(a) and 197-11-600 through 197-11-635). If an EIS or SEIS is prepared on the proposed project, its scope is limited to those probable significant adverse environmental impacts that were not adequately addressed in the EIS used to designate the planned action.

(3) Public notice for projects that qualify as planned actions shall be tied to the underlying permit. If notice is otherwise required for the underlying permit, the notice shall state that the project has qualified as a planned action. If notice is not otherwise required for the underlying permit, no special notice is required. However, the GMA county/city is encouraged to provide some form of public notice as deemed appropriate.

[Statutory Authority: 1995 c 347 (ESHB 1724) and RCW 43.21C.110. 97-21-030 (Order 95-16), 197-11-172, filed 10/10/97, effective 11/10/97.]


SEPA/GMA integration.
(1) The purpose of WAC 197-11-210 through 197-11-235 is to authorize GMA counties/cities to integrate the requirements of SEPA and the Growth Management Act (GMA) to ensure that environmental analyses under SEPA can occur concurrently with and as an integral part of the planning and decision making under GMA. Nothing in these sections is intended to jeopardize the adequacy or require the revision of any SEPA or GMA processes, analyses or document deadlines specified in GMA.

(2) GMA counties/cities may use the procedures of these rules to satisfy the requirements of SEPA for GMA actions. Other jurisdictions planning under GMA may also use these integration procedures.

(3) Environmental analysis at each stage of the GMA planning process should, at a minimum, address the environmental impacts associated with planning decisions at that stage of the planning process. Impacts associated with later planning stages may also be addressed. Environmental analysis that analyzes environmental impacts in the GMA planning process can:

(a) Result in better-informed GMA planning decisions;

(b) Avoid delays, duplication and paperwork in project-level environmental analysis; and

(c) Narrow the scope of environmental review and mitigation under SEPA at the project level.

[Statutory Authority: 1995 c 347 (ESHB 1724) and RCW 43.21C.110. 97-21-030 (Order 95-16), 197-11-210, filed 10/10/97, effective 11/10/97. Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. 95-07-023 (Order 94-22), 197-11-210, filed 3/6/95, effective 4/6/95.]


SEPA/GMA definitions.
For purposes of SEPA:

(1) "Formal SEPA documents" mean:

(a) A nonproject environmental checklist/DNS;

(b) A notice of adoption with or without an addendum;

(c) An addendum;

(d) An EIS; or

(e) An integrated GMA document.

(2) "GMA" means the Growth Management Act, chapter 36.70A RCW and those statutes codified in other chapters of the Revised Code of Washington that were enacted or amended as part of chapter 17, Laws of 1990 1st ex. sess. and chapter 32, Laws of 1991 sp. sess.

(3) "Proposed GMA action" means a proposal for a GMA action that has been issued for public and interagency comment. It does not include drafts, preliminary drafts, or other materials or processes that have been used to develop GMA documents or elements of GMA documents. Such drafts are not considered a "proposal" as defined in WAC 197-11-784.

(4) "GMA action" means policies, plans and regulations adopted or amended under RCW 36.70A.106 or 36.70A.210. Actions do not include preliminary determinations on the scope and content of GMA actions, appeals of GMA actions, actions by the governor or by the growth management hearings boards.

(5) "Integrated GMA document" means a GMA document which contains or combines environmental analysis under SEPA.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. 95-07-023 (Order 94-22), 197-11-220, filed 3/6/95, effective 4/6/95.]


Overall SEPA/GMA integration procedures.
(1) "Joint process." GMA jurisdictions are authorized to combine SEPA and GMA processes and analyses and to issue combined documents.

(2) "Phasing and level of detail." To integrate SEPA and GMA:

(a) The appropriate scope and level of detail of environmental review should be tailored to the GMA action being developed or considered for adoption.

(b) Jurisdictions may modify SEPA phased review as necessary to track the phasing of GMA actions, as provided in GMA and the procedural criteria in chapter 365-195 WAC. (For example, actions of narrower scope, such as interim urban growth boundaries or interim development regulations, subarea plans, and plan elements may be adopted prior to GMA actions of broader scope, such as an overall comprehensive plan revision.)

(c) The process of integrating SEPA and GMA should begin at the early stages of plan development. One purpose of an integrated GMA document (see WAC 197-11-235) is to ensure that studies conducted early in the planning and environmental analysis process are available and useful throughout the planning and analysis process (see WAC 197-11-230(2) and 197-11-235). Although early planning documents and environmental analyses such as documents on concepts or plan elements, may serve specific purposes and are not each required to be comprehensive in scope, they should explain their relationship to the overall GMA/SEPA process that is underway and identify how cumulative impacts are being considered.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. 95-07-023 (Order 94-22), 197-11-228, filed 3/6/95, effective 4/6/95.]


Timing of an integrated GMA/SEPA process.
(1) A formal SEPA document (which may be a draft integrated GMA document under WAC 197-11-235):

(a) Shall be prepared and issued no later than the time that a proposed GMA action is issued for public and interagency review. For comprehensive plans and development regulations, the date of issue shall be at least sixty days prior to final adoption under RCW 36.70A.106;

(b) Shall be provided:

(i) To the legislative body that will consider issuing a GMA action; and

(ii) To any advisory body designated by the local legislative body or chief executive of the city or county to make a formal recommendation to the local legislative body on whether to propose a GMA action. The draft document shall also be circulated as otherwise required by WAC 197-11-455 or 197-11-340 as appropriate.

(2) The responsible official shall make a SEPA threshold determination:

(a) At any time, as long as it is early enough in the process so that the appropriate environmental document can accompany or be combined with a proposed GMA action;

(b) As soon as it can be determined under WAC 197-11-330 that a significant adverse environmental impact is likely to result from the implementation of the GMA action being developed.

(3) A threshold determination is not required when there has been a previous threshold determination or a notice of adoption or an addendum is prepared, except when a new threshold determination is required pursuant to WAC 197-11-600(3).

(4) If a formal SEPA document is issued concurrently with a proposed GMA action which has a public comment period, the public comment period on the formal SEPA document shall be the same as the comment period on the GMA action, provided the comment period is not less than otherwise required of a SEPA document. (See WAC 197-11-340 (2)(c) and 197-11-455(6).)

(5) When a draft integration GMA document includes a draft EIS, the final EIS and the adoption of the GMA document may occur together, notwithstanding the requirements of WAC 197-11-460(5).

[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. 95-07-023 (Order 94-22), 197-11-230, filed 3/6/95, effective 4/6/95.]


SEPA/GMA integration procedures for preliminary planning, environmental analysis, and expanded scoping.
(1) "Preliminary environmental analyses." GMA jurisdictions may prepare environmental analyses for use by decision makers and the public to assist in developing and reviewing preliminary drafts of GMA documents. Environmental analyses prepared for use in such preliminary GMA planning:

(a) Do not require a threshold determination;

(b) May be separate from, or woven into, issue papers or other agency planning materials or presentations;

(c) May use the format of SEPA documents, including a nonproject environmental checklist (Part D of WAC 197-11-960) or addendum (WAC 197-11-706, 197-11-625).

(d) May include evaluation of issues and concerns that are not required in SEPA documents, such as economic or other factors identified in GMA, SEPA, and WAC 197-11-448.

(2) "Expanded scoping."

(a) Timing and use. Expanded scoping may be used prior to a threshold determination to meet one or more of the purposes stated in WAC 197-11-030, 197-11-225, 197-11-230, 197-11-235 and 197-11-410(2). Expanded scoping may initiate or be combined with any early GMA planning activities such as "visioning," development of alternative concepts or elements, or scoping of possible GMA actions. Scoping under WAC 197-11-408 may also be used for these purposes if a determination of significance has been issued.

(b) Notice. An expanded scoping notice may be issued separately from or without a threshold determination. If so the notice should explain that SEPA determinations and documents will occur later and that scoping is starting early to assist and involve the public, tribes and agencies in formulating a specific proposed GMA action and identifying useful environmental analyses.

(c) If expanded scoping is used as provided in this section, additional scoping will be optional if a determination of significance is subsequently issued.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. 95-07-023 (Order 94-22), 197-11-232, filed 3/6/95, effective 4/6/95.]


(1) "Integrating documents." Formal SEPA documents may be prepared as companion documents to accompany proposed GMA actions or may be integrated into the documentation of GMA actions. This section clarifies how WAC 197-11-640 (all SEPA documents) and WAC 197-11-425 through 197-11-442 (EISs) apply to integrated SEPA/GMA documents. The overriding consideration is the quality of information and analysis at the appropriate scope and level of detail for the particular GMA document, and not the format, length or bulk of the document.

(2) "Document format."

(a) There is no standard format for an integrated GMA document. For example an integrated comprehensive plan may look more like a plan preceded by an environmental summary (see WAC 197-11-235(5)), in contrast to a format described in WAC 197-11-430. Any separately bound supporting documents shall be clearly identified in the integrated document.

(b) An integrated GMA document is not required to contain a separate section on affected environment, significant impacts, and mitigation measures under WAC 197-11-440(6), as long as this information is summarized as required by this section, and the basis for this information can be readily found in the document and the supporting record.

(3) "Integrated non-EIS documents."

(a) If a proposed GMA action is not likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact, an integrated GMA document shall be prepared that combines the formal SEPA document (such as an environmental checklist/DNS, a notice of adoption or addendum) with the GMA document. The provisions of WAC 197-11-235 (1) and (2) apply to these integrated documents.

(b) If an environmental checklist is used and a DNS issued, only Parts A (which serves as a fact sheet), C (responsible official's signature), and D (nonproject checklist) need be prepared, plus an environmental summary as specified in WAC 197-11-235(5). Part D and the summary may be combined.

(c) If an addendum is to accompany or be incorporated into an integrated GMA document, it shall contain the information specified in WAC 197-11-235(5) for an environmental summary.

(4) "Plan/EIS documents." Because these documents need to contain sufficient environmental analysis for GMA actions, the same documents that meet GMA planning needs should constitute the SEPA documents for GMA actions and should provide a basis for future decisions on projects. An integrated document will constitute the necessary formal SEPA document, if accompanied by the following (as further specified by subsections (5) through (7) of this section):

(a) Environmental summary and fact sheet;

(b) Concise analysis of alternatives;

(c) Comments and responses; and

(d) Appropriate technical and other materials.

(5) "Environmental summary and fact sheet."

(a) The environmental summary includes the contents required in WAC 197-11-440(4). It should emphasize the major conclusions, significant areas of controversy and uncertainty, if any, and the issues to be resolved, including the environmental choices to be made and the effectiveness of mitigation measures. The summary is not to be a summary of the GMA action.

(b) The summary should highlight from an environmental perspective the main options that would be preserved or foreclosed by the proposed GMA action. It should reflect SEPA's substantive policies and focus on any significant irreversible or irretrievable commitments of natural resources that would be likely to harm long-term environmental productivity, taking into account cumulative impacts. A summary of the principal environmental impacts may be presented in chart or matrix form, summarizing the relevant elements of the environment and impact assessment required by WAC 197-11-440 (6)(b) through (e). The summary may discuss nonenvironmental factors and should do so if relevant to resolving issues concerning the main environmental choices facing decision makers.

(c) The summary should be no longer than necessary (generally fifteen to thirty pages for a plan/EIS, less for other integrated documents) and include tables or graphics to assist readability.

(d) At a minimum the fact sheet shall contain the information required in WAC 197-11-440(2). The fact sheet shall precede the summary in the integrated GMA document.

(6) "Concise analysis of alternatives."

(a) This analysis focuses on a comparative evaluation of the environmental consequences of the principal alternative courses of action that are or have been under consideration in the GMA planning process, as provided by WAC 197-11-440(5). The alternatives analysis shall evaluate the proposed GMA action compared to the principal alternative concepts and plan elements or regulatory options that were considered. This analysis allows decision makers, other agencies and the public to determine if the proposed GMA action can or should be revised before adoption to avoid or reduce environmental or other impacts. These alternatives may be:

(i) Those which are actively being considered; or

(ii) Those considered and screened earlier as part of a public GMA planning process.

(b) Descriptive material on the features of the alternatives (in contrast to comparing their impacts) should be kept to the minimum necessary to understand the comparative evaluation. If more description is necessary, it should be cited or located in the supporting record. Depending on the scope of the GMA action, the text of the alternatives analysis should be less than forty pages.

(7) "Comments and responses." The inclusion of comments and responses is not required for a draft integrated GMA document. For a final integrated document, comments (or a summary of comments) shall be compiled and response prepared as provided in WAC 197-11-560(3). A jurisdiction may include comments (or a summary of comments) received during the scoping process or on preliminary documents, as well as general or specific responses to these comments if any have been prepared, with the integrated GMA document on a proposed GMA action. If this approach is not used, these preliminary comments shall be included in the supporting record. (continued)