Historical Cultural Review (Section 106 Process)

In an effort to preserve our country's rich heritage, Congress created the National Historic Preservation Act. Section 106 of the Act requires us to consider how a Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) project would affect our state's cultural and historical resources. The Act, essentially, outlines a process we must follow in order to protect resources.

What triggers a historical and cultural review?

A project or an activity that could potentially affect historic and culturally significant properties and:

  • Funded (in whole or in part) by federal assistance, such as DWSRF loans.
  • Required to have a federal permit, license, or approval.

Why must my project undergo a historical and cultural review?

All federally funded projects must go through the Section 106 Process (cultural review) to assess how they could affect historic and culturally significant properties. The review process also provides the public, tribes, and other regulatory agencies an opportunity to comment on projects before water systems can begin any ground disturbance and/or construction activities.

What are historical resources?

Historical resources are any prehistoric or historic district, site, building, structure, or object included on, or eligible for inclusion on, the National Register. This also includes artifacts, documents, and any other materials related to the historical resource.

What are cultural resources?

Cultural resources are places and things our nation gives significance to because they play a role in our community and its history, such as tribal burial grounds or known traditional gathering sites.

What steps are required in the Section 106 process?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for ensuring that projects funded by the DWSRF meet Section 106 requirements. EPA has delegated administration of the DWSRF in Washington State to the Office of Drinking Water (DOH).

These are the steps DOH must complete for each project:

  • Step 1: Evaluate the project, based on the final approved scope of work and EZ1 Project Review Form (DOH 331-651 Word)
  • Step 2: Conduct research to determine the effects, if any, to historical and cultural resources.
  • Step 3: Consult with the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP) and tribes to seek concurrence with our determinations.
  • Step 4: Receive concurrence from interested tribes and DAHP.
  • Step 5: Verify the water system submitted a public notice in the local newspaper regarding the cultural and environmental determinations and conducted a 30-day public comment period.

What determinations and requirements could be made for my project?

There are two possible determinations:

  • No Historic Properties Affected.
  • Potential Historic Properties Affected.

Who must be consulted about my project?

A government-to-government relationship must be properly adhered to for the cultural review; and as such, it is DOH's responsibility to contact the Tribes and the Department Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DHAP). We must consult with any possible affected federally recognized tribes (29 in Washington State and four tribes in neighboring states), DAHP, and other interested groups (such as other state agencies). We routinely provide them with copies of correspondence, reports, and additional information, such as, site drawings and construction drawings.

When can I expect a decision about my project?

We cannot forward a formal decision to DAHP and the tribes until you have a signed DWSRF contract. The tribes and DAHP then have 30 days to review our determination letter and project information. Depending on the project's size and complexity, or if the determination is "Potential Historic Properties Affected," the review may take longer. The timetable may vary depending on the historical and cultural resources in the project area and the volume of projects funded in a particular year.

When should I start the public comment period?

Once DOH receives concurrence from the consulting tribes and DAHP, we will send you a letter with instructions. You will need to place a one-time legal advertisement in your local newspaper of record (major daily or weekly newspaper) announcing the 30-day comment period. The ad must include the findings of the project's impact on historic or culturally significant sites.

Can I start pre-construction activities before I receive the approval letter?

As long as there is no ground disturbance, activities such as planning and design work are allowed. However, projects cannot move forward with any ground disturbing activities, including geotechnical work (i.e., test wells) until both of the environmental/cultural review processes are complete and DOH has issued a Final Completion Letter.

How will I know when it is okay to start construction on my project?

Once your project is approved to begin construction, we will send you a written notification called a Final Completion Letter.

Important: If you start ground disturbing activities before receiving the Final Completion Letter, you will jeopardize your DWSRF funding.

What happens if I wish to revise the project's scope of work?

The borrower must contact DOH's State Environmental Review Process/Section 106 Lead and forward a revised EZ-1 Form to initiate a re-evaluation of the cultural review process and/or environmental review process. Construction activities for the revised scope of work are not allowed until DOH can determine whether all elements of the cultural review process and/or environmental review process for the proposed change have been completed.

What are possible examples of a revised scope of work that could trigger a second review?

If a scope of work change includes any of the following, an additional environmental review and/or cultural review may be required:

  • Increase the pipe size.
  • Excavate at a deeper depth.
  • Add new elements to the project activities.
  • Modify the Area of Potential Effect.
  • Excavate at a different location than was previously identified.

Reference Materials


  • State Environmental Review Policy Act.
  • National Environmental Review Policy Act.
  • Endangered Species Act.
  • Environmental Justice, Executive Order 12898.
  • Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
  • Chapter 36.70A RCW, Growth Management Act (GMA).
  • Chapter 42.56.300 RCW, Archaeological Site Public Disclosure Exemption.
  • Chapter 197-11 WAC and Chapter 43.21C RCW, State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).
  • Chapter 25.48 WAC, Archaeological Excavation and Removal Permit.

Cultural Resources

  • Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
  • Archaeological Resources Protection Act.
  • Chapter 27.44 RCW, Indian Graves and Records.
  • Chapter 27.53 RCW, Archaeological Sites and Resources.
  • Chapter 68.60 RCW, Abandoned and Historic Cemeteries and Historic Graves.
  • Chapter 25-48 WAC, Archaeological Excavation and Removal Permits.

More Resources

More Information

Questions? Please email DWSRF@doh.wa.gov.