The Washington State Department of Ecology has issued a Draft Puget Sound Nutrient General Permit intended to reduce total inorganic nitrogen entering into the Puget Sound. High nitrogen levels in any body of water promotes the growth of algae. When algae dies, it consumes dissolved oxygen, thereby reducing the amount of dissolved oxygen available for fish and other aquatic organisms. The draft permit, currently in the public comment phase, would apply to fifty-eight publicly owned domestic wastewater treatment plants discharging to Puget Sound.
The District operates two of the wastewater treatment plants that will be subject to the permit requirements. We have submitted comments, essentially aimed at making certain that the Department considers all reasonable alternatives to its monitoring guidelines and applies the best science available to address ts nitrogen remediation goals. While this initial permit is initially aimed at adding monitoring, operating, and reporting requirements for the District’s facilities, it is anticipated that additional treatment requirements will follow to further reduce the level of nitrogen discharged in the wastewater effluent. This has the potential to require significant costly improvements to the wastewater treatment systems at both plants.