Department of Ecology News Release - February 1, 2012

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Modifications proposed for state's industrial stormwater permit

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) invites public comments on proposed modifications to the state’s industrial stormwater general permit.

The permit is a key tool to guard against polluted runoff from industrial sites to protect the health of our lakes, rivers, streams and Puget Sound.

Polluted runoff is a problem at industrial sites, just as it is in urban settings. Rain and snow melt from activities and materials at industrial facilities, if left uncontrolled or unmanaged, gets into storm drains, where the water is usually not treated. Storm drains are essentially the upper reaches of our lakes, rivers, streams and Puget Sound.

Key changes to the permit are due, in part, to a 2011 ruling by the state Pollution Control Hearings Board. The ruling told Ecology to tighten requirements for sampling and for controlling polluted runoff.

The proposed permit also includes changes that would affect certain facilities located near bacteria-polluted waters. Ecology requested legislation (HB 2651) during the current legislative session to make this change possible.

Ecology will hold four public workshops and one public hearing on the proposed permit changes. The purpose of the workshops is to explain the proposed changes and answer questions. The purpose of the hearing is to provide an opportunity for people to give formal oral testimony and comments on the proposed permit.

Each session begins at 1 p.m.:

Ecology will accept written comments on the draft permit and fact sheet until March 16. Ecology prefers comments be submitted by email for efficiency in receiving and reviewing comments. Emailed comments must contain the commenter’s name and postal address. Comments should reference specific permit text when possible. You may email comments to industrialstormwatercomments@ecy.wa.gov.  Written comments must be postmarked or received via email no later than 5 p.m., March 16, 2012.

You may submit written, hard copy comments to Jeff Killelea, Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600.

You can find the proposed permit online.

Ecology expects to issue the modified permit in May 2012, with an effective date of July 1, 2012.

The industrial stormwater general permit regulates polluted runoff at approximately 1,200 facilities across the state. Approximately 70 percent of those are in the 12 counties that border Puget Sound. Examples of business types needing this permit are lumber, paper, printing, chemicals, petroleum, leather, manufacturing, metals, landfills, transportation, mills and food.

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Media Contact: Sandy Howard, 360-407-6408 (desk), 360-791-3177 (cellular), sandy.howard@ecy.wa.gov 

Water Quality Program website (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/wqhome.html)