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 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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We ask that WWTP staff who have questions about their facility, individual permit, and the general permit to please contact their individual permit writer.

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.

Process for how we created a new 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. You can find all of the permit documents below. 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.

Current permit documents

Updated EPA Clean Water Act Financial Capability Assessment Guidance

Since we released the fact sheet for the Puget Sound Nutrient Draft General Permit in 2021, EPA released updated guidance regarding assessing financial capabilities to implement requirements under the Clean Water Act.

Please see EPA's most recent Clean Water Act Financial Capability Assessment Guidance for current information. This guidance is an update to EPA's Financial Capability Assessment for Clean Water Act Obligations, referenced in our fact sheet for the Puget Sound Nutrient Draft General Permit on page 51.

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 was comprised of regional treatment-plant representatives, state agencies, 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. View the list of members and previous meeting materials.

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