In our September/October Newsletter last year, we mentioned that the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) had issued a Draft Puget Sound Nutrient General Permit intended to reduce the amount of total inorganic nitrogen entering into the Puget Sound from wastewater treatment plant effluent. 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. In December, the DOE finalized its General Permit and issued it for all wastewater treatment plants discharging to Puget Sound, including our Lakota and Redondo plants. In the draft version, the District was rated as a large discharger. The final version identifies Lakehaven as a moderately sized discharger, which provides us some additional time to begin complying with these new regulations and also reduces the frequency of some of the new monitoring requirements.
In the initial phase of the General Permit, we are required to select a strategy that could begin to reduce the community’s nitrogen loading to Puget Sound through operational changes and submit this to the DOE by July 1, 2022. The District has enlisted assistance from an engineering firm in the development of this strategy and we expect to receive a $200,000 grant to fund this effort. While the General 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 to Puget Sound. This will likely require that we make significant and costly improvements to the wastewater treatment systems at both plants in the future.
Issue 198 - March/April 2022