Join our e-network


Clean water act - Tier 3 maintains and protects water quality in outstanding national resource waters (ONRWs). Except for certain temporary changes, water quality cannot be lowered in such waters. ONRWs generally include the highest quality waters of the United States. However, the ONRW classification also offers special protection for waters of exceptional ecological significance, i.e., those which are important, unique, or sensitive ecologically. Decisions regarding which water bodies qualify to be ONRWs are made by States and authorized Indian Tribes. Antidegradation implementation procedures identify the steps and questions that must be addressed when regulated activities are proposed that may affect water quality. The specific steps to be followed depend upon which tier or tiers of antidegradation apply.

WV - tier 3 protection affords the highest levels of protection to Outstanding National Resource Waters. Tier 3 applies to waters within West Virginia's five wilderness areas, including Dolly Sods, Laurel Fork North, Laurel Fork South, Otter Creek, and Cranberry. The final stream list has not yet been completed by DWR. The Tier 3 list of waters can also be expanded based on a public nomination process. Tier 3 waters cannot be degraded, but can be improved by a new or existing operation, although short-term changes to water quality may be allowed. Discharges upstream of a Tier 3 segment are prohibited from degrading the water quality of Tier 3 water.

Tier 3.0 Comment Letter

List of WV's Tier 3.0 Waters