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 early phases of permit development. We are holding 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 spring, 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 release and comment period
February 2021: Information sessions
Spring 2021: Formal public comment period with hearings on the draft permit 
Summer to Late Summer 2021: Decision on permit issuance

Preliminary draft

We are pleased to announce that the Puget Sound Nutrient General Preliminary Permit Draft is available for public comment until March 15, 2021. This preliminary draft does not have the full details that will be in the formal draft but does include the main conceptual approaches we are proposing. These approaches include:

  • 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

Also, we included highlighted areas with questions and statements where we are hoping to gain specific insights from stakeholders, in addition to any general feedback you have. We will not publish a response to comments for this preliminary draft. Rather, comments collected during this first comment period will inform the formal permit draft that we will release later this spring. See the general permit process above for more information on next steps. 

We invite comments on the draft document Jan. 27, 2021 until 11:59 p.m. on March 15, 2021

How to provide comments

We will accept comments from Jan. 27, 2021 until 11:59 p.m. on March 15, 2021.

You may submit comments:

Information sessions held in February

Morning Information Session Webinar
Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021 at 9 a.m. (event in the past - see presentation)

Evening Information Session Webinar
Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. (event in the past - see presentation)

PSNGP Info Session Presentation

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.