Washington state is proposing to designate four bodies of water as “Outstanding Resource Waters” under the Clean Water Act." The classification will be the very first for the state.

The four were selected because of their water quality, recreational value and special features that distinguish them from other waterways. 

Department of Ecology spokesperson Colleen Keltz says the the Napeequa River in remote Chelan County has some special qualifications. 

"With the Napeequa, it's based on its very pristine condition, its location mostly within an already protected area, its high water quality, the unique recreational value that it provides, and its ecological significance," said Keltz. 

The Napeequa River is only accessible by trail.

Keltz says Soap Lake is another one of the four selected bodies of water because of it's makeup. 

"It has this unique layer of very salty water that never mixes with the rest of the lake," Keltz said. "So, it's considered a very rare, unique habitat for those little critters in the water."  

The four waterways were nominated to be "Outstanding Resource Waters" by a coalition of groups around the state. 

There’s currently a public comment period for the nominees. 

Comments can be made online or through the mail. There'll also be in person meetings dedicated to each nominee that’ll feature presentations about them followed by a public hearing. 

The Department of Ecology is hoping to finalize all four water ways as "Outstanding Resource Waters" by the end of the year. 

This designation for Soap Lake would support its unique qualities as Washington's largest saline lake with particular recreational value. 

It's protections would place extra requirements on new or expanded discharges to ensure pollution from wastewater is kept to a minimum. 

The Napeequa River in Chelan County is being nominated along with two other rivers for the special designation - the upper watershed of the Cascade River in Skagit County and the upper watershed of the Green River (near Mount St Helens) in Skamania County.  

The rivers are known for their pristine water quality and exceptional recreational and ecological values. 

The proposed boundary for each river includes all named and unnamed tributaries. The rivers all flow through federal land, except for the Cascade River, which flows through one private parcel within the national forest. 

The Department of Ecology is hoping to finalize the three rivers and Soap Lake as Washington's very first "Outstanding Resource Waters" by the end of the year.

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