Puget Sound Nutrient General Permit

Discharges of excess nutrients, particularly nitrogen, to Puget Sound from domestic wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are significantly contributing to low oxygen levels in Puget Sound. The Clean Water Act and federal rules require WWTPs that contribute to water quality impairments by discharging excess nutrients to take action to prevent this pollution.The proposed Nutrient General Permit would apply to nearly 60 domestic WWTPs discharging to marine and estuarine waters of Puget Sound.  

The Nutrient General Permit will focus only on controlling nutrients and work in conjunction with the WWTPs’ existing individual permits. The exact permit conditions are still to be determined and we are continuing to work with Tribes and stakeholders throughout 2021 to develop a general permit draft.

If you have questions about your facility and the proposed general permit, please contact your individual permit writer.

Process for creating a new general permit

In January 2020, we announced our decision to move forward with developing a draft Nutrient General Permit in Puget Sound. In 2020, we worked with the General Permit Advisory Committee to develop recommendations for permit conditions. Currently, we are in the permit development phase. We held the first public comment period on the preliminary draft of the permit from Jan. 27 to March 15. After we review all feedback we receive on this informal draft, we will complete the formal draft permit and fact sheet language and hold a public comment period with formal hearings. We expect to hold this formal comment period in summer, 2021. Please see our Puget Sound Nutrient General Permit process focus sheet for more information on the general permit process.  

Timeline

January 27, 2021: Preliminary draft released and comment period
February 2021: Information sessions held
Summer 2021: Formal public comment period with workshop and hearings on the draft permit
Fall 2021: Decision on permit issuance

Preliminary draft

We invited public comment on the Preliminary Permit Draft from Jan. 27, 2021 to March 15, 2021. The preliminary draft asked for specific feedback related to the main conceptual approaches, including:

  • Nutrient Action Levels that trigger nutrient reduction actions
  • Optimization of current treatment processes and other nutrient reduction actions
  • Monitoring and reporting requirements
  • Early planning requirements for future plant upgrades

You can view public comments we received on the conceptual approaches proposed in the preliminary draft document.

Information sessions held in February

We held two informational session webinars on Feb. 9 and 10, 2021. You can view the Info Session Presentation we gave. 

Advisory Committee 

In March 2020, we convened a General Permit Advisory Committee to advise us in drafting general permit requirements for domestic wastewater treatment plants discharging to Puget Sound. This Advisory Committee is comprised of regional treatment plant representatives, state agencies (including Ecology), the EPA, and the environmental community. Committee members met throughout 2020 to develop recommendations for permit conditions, and they brought a diverse array of ideas and concerns to the table. See below for a list of members and previous meeting materials. 

General permit documents

As we develop draft general permit documents, they will be available here.