Department of Ecology News Release - June 29, 2016

UPDATED – Aug. 15, 2016

Public comment period extended

The Washington Department of Ecology is extending the original 60-day public comment period by 15 days. Comments will be accepted through Sept. 13.

New permits strengthen protection of Spokane River
Three draft water quality permits ready for public review

The Spokane River flows through downtown Spokane past Riverfront park before winding its way to Lake Spokane, Lake Roosevelt and the Columbia River.The Spokane River flows through downtown Spokane past Riverfront park before winding its way to Lake Spokane, Lake Roosevelt and the Columbia River.

SPOKANE – As part of a major effort to achieve a clean and healthy Spokane River, three of five water quality permits are being updated. The permits require facilities to treat wastewater to clean water standards in order to protect the river, which suffers from low dissolved oxygen and high amounts of toxic chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The Washington Department of Ecology reviews and reissues the permits on a 5-year cycle to ensure facilities are continuing to protect water quality. The public can review updated permits for the city of Spokane, Liberty Lake Sewer and Water District, and Kaiser Aluminum Trentwood Works through Aug. 29.

“We consider clean water needs, environmental conditions, and reasonable treatment options when developing permit requirements,” said Water Quality Section Manager Jim Bellatty. “We believe these permits contain realistic, workable solutions for reducing toxics and other pollutants in the river.”

The updated permits will include strict limits on phosphorus and other common pollutants, intermediate targets for meeting final limits of PCBs, and require continued participation in the Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force.

The task force, facilitated by the William D. Ruckelshaus Center, has been working since 2012 on a comprehensive approach to simultaneously identify and reduce all sources of PCBs in the Spokane River Basin.

PCBs remain in the environment and build up over time in fish, animals and people.

Phosphorus and other nutrients in the Spokane River and Lake Spokane cause depletion of dissolved oxygen that fish and other aquatic life need to survive. Excess nutrients can also cause toxic algae blooms that can harm people.

Ecology is hosting an open house to kick off a 60-day public comment period on the permits at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 30, at its Eastern Regional Office, 4601 N. Monroe St., Spokane.

Ecology also will hold a workshop followed by a public hearing at 6 p.m. Aug. 2 at the Mirabeau Park Hotel and Convention Center, 1100 N. Sullivan Road, Spokane Valley.

Comments can be sent by email to Shara-Li Joy at shara-li.joy@ecy.wa.gov, or by mail to 4601 N. Monroe St., Spokane, WA 99205.

Permits for Inland Empire Paper and Spokane County will be available for public review later this year.

Contact:

Brook Beeler, communications, 509-329-3478, @ecyspokane