Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1952 No. 250 - Mar 6 1952
Attorney General Smith Troy


The Pollution Control Commission may restrict or restrain the storage of logs in a lake whenever such regulation is necessary to prevent or alleviate the pollution of the waters of the lake.

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                                                                   March 6, 1952

Pollution Control Commission
408 Old Capitol Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                        Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 250

Attention:  !ttMr. E. F. Eldridge, Director and Chief Engineer

Dear Sir:

            On February 1, 1952, you wrote us and inquired whether your commission may prohibit or limit the use of a lake for log storage.

            You are advised that the Pollution Control Commission may restrict or restrain the storing of logs in a lake if the regulation is necessary to prevent or alleviate the pollution of the waters of the lake.


            The pertinent portions of your letter read as follows:

            "* * *

            "There are several instances where timber companies use major portions of lakes and, in some cases, interfere with the free use of the lake for  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] fishing and recreational purposes.  Bark and other debris is uncontrolled and eventually settles to the bottom where it decomposes, causing gases which destroy aquatic life.  In some areas of these lakes the bottom is covered with several feet of decomposing material.

            "* * *

            "The company using Lake Kapowsin has made proposals which will involve the use of much of this lake for storage.  We feel that they could limit the area used by other storage methods.  This lake is in the path of migrating fish.

            "Does the Commission have the authority to specify the areas used and enforce the regulations, or is this a function of the Game Department?"

            Chapter 216, Laws of 1945 (Rem. Supp. 1947, § 10964a et seq.) creates the Pollution Control Commission of the State of Washington.  A careful scrutiny of this act discloses no legislative intent to directly vest in the commission the power or jurisdiction to control the usage of lake waters for log storage.  If a timber company stores its logs so as to interfere with the free enjoyment of the lake by the other riparian owners, such possibly constitutes a public nuisance.  See Rem. Rev. Stat., § 2500 and § 9913-3.  The authority to abate a public nuisance rests in the local county prosecutor.

            When, and if, the storing of logs in the lake proximately causes the pollution of the waters of the lake, the commission has the jurisdiction to restrain or restrict such storage.  Section 1 of chapter 216,supra, declares the public policy of the state to be the maintenance of the highest possible standards to insure the purity of all waters within the state, and section 10 authorizes the commission tocontrol andprevent the pollution of these waters.  This latter section, which we deem most important, reads:

            "The Commission shall have the jurisdiction to control and prevent the pollution of streams, lakes, rivers, ponds, inland waters, salt waters, water courses, and other surface and underground waters of the State of Washington."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            The next section grants the commission the right to enforce the provisions of the chapter, and toward that end, to adopt and disseminate rules and regulations consistent with known methods of pollution control and public welfare.  See also sections 12, 14, and 20, the first two setting out the commission's legal remedies and the latter the chapter's sanctions.

            Therefore, applying chapter 216, supra, to the Lake Kapowsin problem, and assuming that the storage of logs causes the pollution of the lake waters, and in direct answer to your query, we are of the opinion that the Pollution Control Commission has the authority to make and enforce reasonable rules and regulations prohibiting or limiting the area of a lake used for log storage, provided, however, that such will reduce or tend to reduce the pollution.

            Trusting that the above fully answers your problem, we remain

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General