Excess nutrient discharges from human sources are polluting watersheds and waterways around the nation, including Puget Sound. This pollution, which can come from sources big and small – from sewage plants to runoff from parking lots – can cause dangerous drops in dissolved oxygen levels, increases in carbon dioxide saturation and acidification, and severe environmental stress. The Department of Ecology recently issued a draft Clean Water Act permit, called the draft Puget Sound Nutrient General Permit, to start to address part of this problem: nutrients coming from our municipal sewage treatment plants.

“Discharges of excess nutrients, particularly nitrogen, to Puget Sound from domestic wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are significantly contributing to low oxygen levels in Puget Sound.” ~Washington State Department of Ecology~

Under the state’s proposed approach, the state aims to put its oversight of nutrient discharges from 58 of the Sound’s largest facilities within one “general” permit. Soundkeeper is actively reviewing this draft permit and the science underlying the permit’s proposed nutrient management measures. As with all permits reviewed by Soundkeeper, we will work to ensure the permit complies with state and federal requirements for clean water protections.

The permit is out for comment until mid-August. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect clean water by strengthening this brand-new permit.

Learn more at: Soundkeeper’s Wastewater Factsheet.