Puget Sound Nutrients 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. As these WWTPs are contributing human sources of excess nutrients to Puget Sound, we must take action to control this pollution.

On Jan. 30, 2020, we announced our decision to move forward with developing a draft Nutrients General Permit in Puget Sound. The proposed Nutrients General Permit would apply to nearly 70 domestic WWTPs discharging to marine and estuarine waters of Puget Sound.  

The Nutrients 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 working with stakeholders and Tribes throughout 2020 to develop a general permit draft. If you have questions about your facility and the proposed general permit, please contact your individual permit writer.

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Permit 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, the environmental community, and Tribes. 

The committee has been working over the past months to develop a suite of recommendations that will ensure progress towards nutrient reduction during the first permit term. These final recommendations will inform permit conditions that will be released for informal public comment in the preliminary draft. 

Next steps in developing the general permit

Fall Advisory Committee Meetings: September 30, 2020 and October 21, 2020.

  • After meeting throughout this year, the Advisory Committee will use their Fall meetings to finalize a suite of recommendations for Ecology’s General Permit team to use as guidance in drafting the general permit.

Nutrient Forum Meeting: November 3, 2020

Nutrient General Permit Development & Public Comment Period: Beginning of 2021

  • Ecology’s Nutrient General Permit team will develop and publish a preliminary draft of the first term Nutrients General Permit. We intend to release this preliminary draft for informal public comment in January 2021. Additional outreach to interested parties will also occur during this preliminary draft stage.
  • After considering comments from the preliminary draft, Ecology anticipates holding a formal comment period on the final draft in spring 2021.  This formal comment period will include at least one public hearing and workshop.

Nutrient General Permit Issuance: 2021

  • We are hopeful to issue the permit in 2021. The actual date of permit issuance will depend on the comments received during the formal public comment period.

General Permit documents

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