Department of Ecology News Release - January 30, 2013

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Water quality standards webinar set for Feb. 8

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) will convene the next Water Quality Standards Policy Forum as an interactive public webinar on Feb. 8.

The public may attend the meeting in person at Ecology’s building in Lacey or by computer and phone. All participants will be able to listen, ask questions, participate in discussions, and watch presentations.

Ecology is convening a robust public process that will include discussions of a broad array of issues, including what chemicals to address, new chemical toxicity factors, regional information on fish consumption, levels of acceptable risk, and implementation.

Policy Forums provide an opportunity for interested parties and the public to become involved and learn about Ecology’s rule activities to update the state’s water quality standards for toxics.

The water quality standards for toxics, which are called “human health criteria surface water quality standards,” are based on a number of factors, including how much fish Washingtonians eat.

The Ecology rule activities includes the development of new implementation and compliance tools to help current and future water-quality permitted dischargers comply with potential new water quality standards.

The Policy Forum will include a presentation about select toxic pollutants found in Washington waters; a discussion about risk levels and human health criteria calculation; and continued discussion of scenarios that Ecology developed to help people understand potential effects of adopting new human health criteria and updating implementation tools.

Ecology’s goal is to involve key parties, other interests and the public as the department addresses complex science and public policy issues around adopting new human health-based water quality standards and implementation tools.

In September, Ecology began formal rule-making activities to adopt new human health-based water quality standards for toxics. The new standards will include updating assumptions about how much fish Washingtonians eat.

The state’s water quality standards are important because they guide how the state regulates water pollution. The human health-based standards help keep Washington’s fish and shellfish clean and protect people who eat them.

Ecology’s Policy Forum will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (PST). Free registration for the webinar is available online.

Read more about the Policy Forum and see the meeting agenda here.

If you have questions, contact Becca Conklin, Ecology water quality standards coordinator, at 360-407-6413 or swqs@ecy.wa.gov.

Directions to Ecology’s headquarters building may be found online.

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

Background news release:  Washington moves forward to adopt new water quality standards for toxics

Reducing Toxics in Fish, Sediments and Water (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/toxics/fish.html)