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 58 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. We are continuing to work with Tribes and stakeholders throughout 2021 to develop a general permit.

For current WWTP's with individual permits, if you have questions about your facility and the proposed general permit, please contact your individual permit writer.

This permit will apply to 58 facilities that discharge to Puget Sound. 27 of those facilities are dominant loaders contributing over 99% of the nutrients. View our web map for more information.

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. We reviewed all feedback we received on this informal draft, and completed the formal draft permit for the public comment period with formal hearings. We are holding the 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

Jan. 27, 2021: Preliminary draft released and comment period – view comments we received
Feb. 9th & 10th 2021: Information sessions held –  view presentation
July/Aug. 2021: Formal public comment period with workshop and hearings on the draft permit
Fall 2021: Decision on permit issuance

Draft permit issuance

We are pleased to announce that the draft Puget Sound Nutrient General Permit is available for public comment. We invite comments on the draft permit document and State Environmental Policy Act Determination of Non-Significance beginning June 16, 2021 until Aug. 16, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. Note the new comment period end date. We have extended the public comment period on the draft permit through Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. 

Also, all other related permit materials are available at the links below. Fact Sheet and Appendices provide the technical basis for the permit. We will publish a Response to Comments as an appendix to the fact sheet to address comments submitted. 

Draft permit documents

State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) documents

Related permit materials

How to provide comments

We will accept comments from June 16, 2021, until 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 16, 2021.

You may submit comments:

Online:
Submit your comments through our online comments form.

By mail:
Eleanor Ott, P.E.
Washington State Department of Ecology 
PO Box 47696
Olympia, WA 98504-7696

In person:
You may provide comments during any of our public hearings.

Workshops and hearings

We will host online workshops, immediately followed by a public hearing on the following dates:

Morning: Tuesday, July 20, 2021 - 9:30 a.m. - Webinar
Click here to register for the webinar

Evening: Wednesday, July 21, 2021 - 5:30 p.m. - Webinar
Click here to register for the webinar

During the workshop, we will explain the proposed changes to the permit and answer questions. The hearing will begin after the public workshop and will end when public testimony is complete. During the hearing, you may give oral testimony on the proposed changes. Written comments will receive the same consideration as oral testimony.

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.