Puget Sound Nutrient General Permit

Discharges of excess nutrients — particularly nitrogen — to Puget Sound from domestic wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are contributing to existing low oxygen levels in Puget Sound and the rest of the Salish Sea. 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 Nutrient General Permit applies to 58 domestic WWTPs discharging to marine and estuarine waters of the Salish Sea in Washington.

The Nutrient General Permit focuses only on controlling nutrients and works in conjunction with the WWTPs' existing individual permits. We ask that WWTP staff who have questions about their facility, individual permit, and the general permit to please contact their individual permit writer.

We issued the first Puget Sound Nutrient General Permit on Dec. 1, 2021. The permit is effective on Jan. 1, 2022, and expires on Dec. 31, 2026.

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The permit applies to 58 facilities that discharge to Puget Sound. Seven of those facilities are dominant loaders contributing over 80% of the nutrients. View our web map for more information.

Current permit documents

Draft Financial Capability Assessment Guidance

As part of the permit implementation, permittees need to complete an economic evaluation. This evaluation, which includes an affordability assessment that looks at the impact to communities, is intended to help identify an economically reasonable level of treatment in the context of AKART (all known, available and reasonable methods of prevention, control and treatment). To support this evaluation, we have new draft Financial Capability Assessment Guidance available for review. Our guidance builds on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Financial Capability Assessment guidance. This type of assessment helps identify the feasibility of the permittee to take on the financial costs of the project by considering factors such as debt capacity of a community, affordability of wastewater utility rate increases to impacted households, and disproportionate impacts to vulnerable populations. We specifically tailored our guidance to Washington state, including factors such as cost of living, describing impacts to low-income households more directly, and providing an updated list of funding resources.

After we review comments, we plan to finalize the guidance this fall.

Providing feedback

Based on requests, we have extended the comment period. We are now accepting comments on the draft guidance from June 20 until August 14, 2024, 11:59 p.m. Please submit your comments using our online commenting platform eComments. If you have questions about the draft guidance, please email psnutrientsGP@ecy.wa.gov.


We are hosting two in-person workshops to walk through the guidance and answer questions. We request that attendees RSVP by emailing psnutrientsGP@ecy.wa.gov prior to the meeting to help us plan for attendance.

  • July 18,  1 to 4 p.m.
    Skagit Transit Station
    105 E Kincaid, Mt. Vernon 98273
  • July 24, 9 a.m. to Noon
    Ecology Headquarters Auditorium
    300 Desmond Drive, SE, Lacey 98503
    *Note: Please park in Visitor Parking, which is past the flags at the main entrance, to the left of the large parking garage. Consider carpooling as parking is limited.

Process for how we created the general permit

In January 2020, we announced our decision to move forward with developing a draft Nutrient General Permit in Puget Sound. During 2020, we worked with the General Permit Advisory Committee to develop recommendations for permit conditions. 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 developed a formal draft and related documents for review.

Next, we invited comments on the formal draft Puget Sound Nutrient General permit documents from June 16 to Aug. 16, 2021. We held public workshops and hearings in mid-July, where we explained the proposed changes to the permit and answered questions. View the workshop PowerPoint presentation. View the public comments that were made in the electronic comment form, or see Appendix C below for our full response to comments.

Permit issuance

We issued the first Puget Sound Nutrient General Permit on Dec. 1, 2021, effective on Jan. 1, 2022. The fact sheet and appendices provide the technical basis for the permit. The Response to Comments is an appendix to the fact sheet that addresses comments submitted during the public comment period.

More permit information

Help applying for coverage, finding or completing forms, or drafting public notices

Tricia Miller

Mail forms to:

Washington State Department of Ecology
Attn: WQ Puget Sound Nutrient Permit Coordinator
Northwest Regional Office
15700 Dayton Ave. N
Shoreline, WA 98133

Carey Cholski

Mail forms to:

Washington State Department of Ecology
Attn: WQ Puget Sound Nutrient Permit Coordinator
Southwest Regional Office
P.O. Box 47775
Olympia WA 98504-7775