Antidegradation Policy

Where We Are Now

The Division of Water (Division) plans to release proposed regulations for Tiers 1 and 2 in the near future. This webpage will be updated as more information becomes available. You can also sign up for the Antidegradation listserv using the link below. Information on Tier 3 is located here.

To keep informed about the development of antidegradation regulations, you may sign up for the DEC.Water.Antidegredation listserv. If you have questions on antidegradation, please feel free to contact

Background Information

Antidegradation is a tool used to protect the water quality in the State of Alaska. Antidegradation implementation is the method or process for determining whether and to what extent the water quality may be lowered.

The Federal Clean Water Act requires states to have an anti-degradation policy and implementation methods. Federal regulation at 40 CFR 131.12 specifies States must have an antidegradation policy that:

  • Protects existing uses
  • Authorizes the lowering of water quality in high quality waters, where necessary for social or economic importance
  • Provides mechanism to provide additional protection for water of exceptional ecological or recreational significance. These are often called Outstanding National Resource Waters or ONRWs.

Alaska's current antidegradation policy, adopted in 1997, is found in the Water Quality Standards regulations at 18 AAC 70.015. EPA approved Alaska's policy with the stipulation that Alaska write implementation guidance. DEC adopted interim implementation methods in July 2010.

History of Antidegradation

DEC began its recent antidegradation efforts in 2008 with a contractor produced report that outlined several options for the State to develop antidegradation implementation guidance and policy.

Then in 2009, DEC hosted a public workshop on antidegradation issues. The purpose of the conference was to inform policy makers, wastewater discharge permittees, permit writers and interested public regarding options for implementation procedures. From information gathered in the workshop DEC formulated and adopted the Interim Antidegradation Implementation Methods in 2010.

In 2012, DEC assembled a stakeholder workgroup, comprised of representatives from state resource agencies, industry and non-governmental sources, to evaluate options and to provide recommendations on various core elements for the final antidegradation implementation methods to be developed by DEC.

In January 2013, the workgroup completed a final report that highlighted key issues and made recommendations for drafting new antidegradation implementation regulations. The Division drafted proposed regulations based on the workgroup recommendations and departmental input, review and approval.

The proposed regulations were noticed for public comment on January 17, 2014 for 60 days, the comment period was extended for an additional 30 days, and closed April 16, 2014. The Division received comments and based on the public feedback decided to hold additional workshop(s) in 2015 to discuss and evaluate select issues that were raised during the comment period.

The Division held a public workshop May 13-14, 2015, to discuss issues identified during the initial public comment period on the Draft Antidegradation Implementation Method regulations. The Division has evaluated the recommendations and information provided at the workshop for regulation revisions and plans to notice the revised regulations for a second public comment period. Notes gathered during the public workshop, workshop presentations, and additional information are located here.