Antidegradation Policy

Where We Are Now

The public comment period is now closed.

The Division of Water (Division) released draft antidegradation implementation regulations for a 67 day comment period. The public comment period opened Friday, June 2, 2017 and closed at 5:00 pm on Monday, August 7, 2017. There was a question and answer session and a public hearing on July 20, 2017 in the DEC Main Conference Room, First Floor, 555 Cordova Street, Anchorage.

The Division has decided to separate the Tier 3 (Outstanding National Resource Water or ONRW) nomination and designation process in order to obtain additional stakeholder input and to continue to work on a Tier 3 nomination and designation process that will work statewide, now and in the future. Therefore, the draft regulations being publically noticed at this time only includes implementation methods for the antidegradation analyses relating to APDES permitted discharges. The Division is continuing to work on the Tier 3 nomination and designation process and expects to have a recommendation this fall. More 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

Public Involvement: How you can be involved

Division staff has posted the proposed regulations addressing antidegradation implementation methods for formal public comment.

The Division will hold an informational question and answer session to discuss the proposed regulations prior to conducting a public (oral) hearing. The session is scheduled for one hour immediately preceding the hearing beginning at 3 pm.

The proposed regulations have been posted on this page as a link under Additional Information. You may comment on the proposed regulation, including the potential costs to private persons of complying with the proposed changes:

  1. By submitting written comments to Earl Crapps, DEC Division of Water, 555 Cordova Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99501. Additionally, the Division will accept comments by facsimile at (907) 269-7509 and by electronic mail at
  2. Comments may also be submitted through the Alaska Online Public Notice System.
  3. Oral or written comments also may be submitted at a hearing to be held on July 20th, 2017, in the DEC Main Conference Room, First Floor, 555 Cordova Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99501. There will be a call-in number if you are not able to attend the meeting in person. The call-in number will be 1-800-315-6338, and the Meet Me Code will be 78594. The hearing will be held from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm and may be extended to accommodate those present before 5:30 pm who did not have an opportunity to comment. The question and answer session will begin at 3:00 pm.
  4. The comments must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on August 7th, 2017.

Public Question and Answer Opportunities

Public notices are one of many ways DEC can communicate with Alaskans about current activities and invite the public to be part of the discussion about our environmental issues.

Please submit written questions relevant to the proposed action to Earl Crapps by electronic mail at or mail to, DEC Division of Water, 555 Cordova Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99501. The questions must be received at least 10 days before the end of the public comment period. DEC will aggregate its response to substantially similar questions and make the questions and our response available here. Please be aware that the submitted questions are not considered formal comments on the proposed regulations and will not be addressed as such by the Division. If you wish to submit formal public comments, please do so as described under Public Involvement.

Public Questions and DEC Responses

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 a mechanism to provide additional protection for water of exceptional ecological or recreational significance. These are often called Outstanding National Resource Waters (ONRWs) or Tier 3 waters.

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.

Additional information

Tiers 1, 2 and 3


Earl Crapps
Section Manager
Domestic & Industrial Utilities
(907) 269-7681