Water Quality Improvement Project
|To learn more about PCBs and their health effects, please see the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) fact sheet. (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts17.html)|
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can be toxic to fish and wildlife that live in or use a contaminated water body. In the past, PCBs were used as coolants and lubricants in electrical equipment, such as transformers and capacitors. In 1977 the United States banned the commercial manufacture of PCBs because they build up in the environment and can be harmful to humans and wildlife. Certain PCBs continue to be inadvertently produced as by-products in some manufacturing processes, such as the production of pigments. These PCBs can be present in consumer products and can be subsequently introduced into the environment through everyday use. PCB exposure can occur if you:
In May 2011 Ecology completed a PCB Source Assessment Study. This document, originally published as a draft PCB total maximum daily load (TMDL), provides the technical underpinnings for a PCB reduction strategy. Rather than develop a TMDL for PCBs, Ecology is pursuing direct actions to lower PCB loading into the Spokane River. Because establishing a TMDL with wasteload allocations can take many generations to meet and may take a decade or more to establish, Ecology feels that taking steps to reduce toxics immediately is more effective at achieving the desired water quality goal. This direct-to-implementation strategy, a component in the overall Toxics Reduction Strategy for the Spokane River, will in part require emphasis on identifying and reducing PCBs at their source(s) in the watershed.
In January 2012 the collaborative Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force (SRRTTF) was established to “characterize the sources of toxics in the Spokane River and identify and implement appropriate actions needed to make measurable progress towards meeting applicable water quality standards for the state of Washington, state of Idaho, and The Spokane Tribe of Indians, and in the interests of public and environmental health.” The Task Force’s unique approach towards reducing toxic compounds is intended to result in more effective and immediate improvements to water quality. The SRRTTF activities include:
Funding is provided from a combination of private and public sources.
In the summer and fall of 2011 NPDES permits were issued for all Washington wastewater dischargers, including the new Spokane County wastewater treatment facility. These permits require that performance-based PCB limits be established within the first permit cycle and require participation in the regional task force. NPDES permits for all Idaho wastewater dischargers are expected to be issued in early 2013.
If Ecology determines that the Task Force is failing to make measurable progress toward meeting applicable water quality criteria for PCBs, Ecology would be obligated to proceed with the development of a TMDL in the Spokane River for PCBs, or determine an alternative to ensure water quality standards are met.
Please check this web page for opportunities to learn more and get involved.
Note: unless otherwise specified, the following documents are Ecology publications.
Spokane River PCB Source Assessment, 2003-2007
PCBs, PBDEs, and Selected Metals in Spokane River Fish, 2005
Spokane River PCB TMDL
Stormwater Loading Analysis: Final Technical Report
Quality Assurance Project Plan: Total Maximum Daily Load Study for PCBs in
the Spokane River
Spokane Tribe of Indians Water Quality Standards (Spokane Tribe of Indians
Liberty Lake Source Trace Study Regarding PCB, PBDE, Metals, and Dioxin/Furan
- A pilot project for Spokane Basin Source Tracing
Spokane River Urban Waters Source Investigation and Data Analysis Progress
Spokane River Toxics Reduction Strategy
Dissolved Metals TMDL Report
Toxic Cleanup Program's Site Information for the Spokane River
Includes cleanup efforts associated with PCB-contaminated sediments.
Washington Department of Health Publications:
WRIA 57: Middle Spokane
Watershed Information (Environmental Assessment
Program web site)
# of TMDLs: ---
Under development as a direct-to-implementation project
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