King County is developing a new long-term plan called the Clean Water Plan. The Plan will be the County’s new wastewater comprehensive plan, guiding water infrastructure investments in the County for decades to come. This is a critical time for our waters, but King County has failed to provide sufficient information for the public to be able to understand, meaningfully comment, and fully participate in this process.

Puget Soundkeeper and our partners are demanding that King County pause the scoping period and provide transparent and complete information to the public about the significant environmental and human health impacts the Clean Water Plan will have.

The County has failed to disclose to the public that it has asked EPA to delay completion of legally agreed upon Combined Sewer Overflow control projects – including stopping toxic wastewater and stormwater overflows into the Duwamish River and Puget Sound – as part of the new Clean Water Plan. Combined Sewer Overflow control projects are critical to stopping toxic pollution to our waters and protecting frontline communities from pollution. Combined Sewer Overflows have sent billions of gallons of raw sewage to our waterways over the last decade. Between 2006 and 2010, King County’s Combined Sewer Overflows discharged approximately 900 million gallons of raw sewage to waterways every year. In 2018, despite a Consent Decree with EPA to resolve these violations, conditions resulted in 160 untreated overflow events discharging 839 million gallons of combined sewage and stormwater into Puget Sound waters. These numbers do not include Seattle’s Combined Sewer Overflows. The combined figures are staggering.

Delaying Combined Sewer Overflow control projects could result in more toxic pollution being discharged into local waters, including the Duwamish River and Puget Sound, under the Clean Water Plan. Project delays will impact the communities in the Duwamish Valley – an area that both King County and Seattle recognize already experiences disproportionate health impacts and environmental injustices.

Details regarding King County’s legal requirements per the Clean Water Act, Washington law, and its Consent Decree with the EPA, as well as data regarding its Combined Sewage Overflows and the cumulative and comparative impacts of Seattle’s Combined Sewer Overflows and other stormwater and wastewater discharges on our waters and communities, should be provided to the public in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Further, the public should be provided with details about the County’s discussions with EPA, and details regarding whether, what, and how long the County wants to delay Combined Sewer Overflow control projects.

In addition, King County must explain to the community what impacts the Clean Water Plan could have on the Duwamish River, the Duwamish Valley Community, and the progress of the Duwamish Superfund site. Any changes to King County’s plans to control its Combined Sewer Overflows must account for the Duwamish Superfund Cleanup, must not contribute to any delays of the Superfund Cleanup, and must not pose the risk of or cause recontamination of the River. King County must adhere to its commitments to equity and social justice, consistent with Resolution 14368.

We cannot understand the impacts of the Clean Water Plan without this information. We therefore ask that the County pause the scoping period in order to provide the public with a clear and complete explanation.

If you are concerned about toxic Combined Sewer Overflow discharges to the Duwamish River and to Puget Sound, send a comment to King County before the July 19th deadline! Please feel free to modify the sample text we have provided to help you get started.