Water Quality Improvement Project
Strait of Juan de Fuca Area:

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The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a large body of water about 95 miles long that is the Salish Sea outlet to the Pacific Ocean. It extends east from the Pacific Ocean between Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and the Olympic Peninsula, Washington, to Haro Strait, San Juan Channel, Rosario Strait, and Puget Sound. The international boundary between the United States and Canada runs down the center of the Strait.

Water quality issues

On June 9, 1989, as the result of an EPA-issued interim strategy for regulating dioxin discharges from existing pulp mills, Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) listed 8 pulp mills as violating water quality standards for the pollutant 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD, a type of dioxin), according to Section 304(1) of the Clean Water Act. The ITT Rayonier (Port Angeles) pulp mill, discharging to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, was on this list.

Why this matters

Dioxins are common by-products of a number of human and natural activities. These activities include combustion and incineration, forest fires, chlorine bleaching of pulp and paper, certain types of chemical manufacturing and processing, and other industrial processes. Dioxins are a concern because they are toxic contaminants that last a long time in the environment and can build-up in aquatic organisms, becoming more concentrated as they move through the food chain.

Status of the project

The ITT Rayonier pulp mill in Port Angeles required an individual control strategy, defined as a water quality-based permit. Ecology developed a dioxin total maximum daily load (TMDL) for the Strait of Juan de Fuca and established a wasteload allocation (WLA) to control dioxin discharge from the pulp mill. The WLA was incorporated into the mill's national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permit. The mill operated for only several years after the TMDL was in place. It was closed in 1997.

Ecology submitted the TMDL to EPA in March 1992 for approval. EPA approved the TMDL in July 1992.

Technical information

Strait of San Juan de Fuca Dioxin TMDL (Ecology publication)

Related information

WRIA 18: Elwha-Dungeness Watershed Information (Water web site)


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Last updated June 2014


WRIA: #18 (Elwha-Dungeness)
County: Clallam County

Waterbody Name:
Strait of Juan de Fuca


# of TMDLs: 1

TMDL approved by EPA
July 14, 1992

Contact Info:
Andrew Kolosseus
Email: Andrew.Kolosseus@ecy.wa.gov

Southwest Region
Department of Ecology
PO Box 47775
Olympia, WA 98504-7775