Department of Ecology News Release - February 3, 2016

New state-led clean water rule proposed

Protects health of Washington’s people, fish and economy


The Department of Ecology today released a new draft clean water rule (also known as the fish consumption rule) that contains a more protective cancer risk rate, in keeping with the governor’s directive from October 2015.

The federal Clean Water Act requires states to establish (and keep up to date) standards for how clean lakes, rivers and marine waters need to be for the health of people and fish, and to control pollution limits for businesses and municipalities permitted to discharge wastewater.

The new draft rule aims to protect the health of Washington’s people, fish and the economy. The rule provides a foundation for the state’s ongoing progress to reduce and control toxics in the environment. Ecology continues to work with researchers and manufacturers to find safer chemical alternatives, eliminating these toxics at the source.

The public is invited to participate in public hearings and webinars on April 5, 6 and 7 to learn more, and comment on the draft rule through April 22, 2016. Ecology expects to adopt a final rule in August 2016.

The Environmental Protection Agency also is preparing a rule for Washington in case the state’s rule is not finalized. EPA released its draft rule in September 2015.

The state’s new draft rule helps Washington maintain control over how to meet federal requirements to ensure the state is protecting human health while providing businesses and local government sensible tools to comply with updated standards.

Both the state’s and EPA’s draft rules agree that water quality standards should be based on a daily average fish consumption rate of 175 grams and a one-in-1-million cancer risk rate.

The state’s new draft rule offers implementation tools to wastewater dischargers giving them time to come into compliance while working on reducing toxics in their waste streams. EPA’s rule proposal does not contain these options.

EPA’s draft rule contains overly stringent limits for PCBs and arsenic, and adds a new limit for methyl mercury that will be difficult for Washington dischargers to meet. The Ecology rule would maintain the current standards, as proposed in its initial rule, for PCBs and mercury. Arsenic would align with the federal drinking water standard.

Dates, times and locations of public hearings:

SEATTLE - In-person public workshop/hearing
         Tuesday, April 5, 2016
         6:30 p.m.
         Georgetown Campus South Seattle Community College
         6737 Corson Ave S – Building C
         Seattle, WA 98108

SPOKANE – In-person public workshop/hearing
         Wednesday, April 6, 2016
         6:30 p.m.
         Spokane Centerplace Regional Events Center
         2426 N. Discovery Place
         Spokane Valley, WA 99216

WEBINAR - Online-only public workshops/hearings
         Thursday, April 7, 2016
         1:30 – 4:30 p.m.
         6:30 p.m. until needed
         More information online

Contact information

Sandy Howard
Communications manager
Twitter: ecologywa