Puget Soundkeeper Alliance Files Appeal Seeking Stronger Controls, Sooner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 22, 2021


Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone, Puget Soundkeeper Communications Manager 

206.297.7002 x109


Janette Brimmer, Earthjustice Senior Attorney 



Olympia, WA (December 22, 20021) — Today, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance challenged a permit issued by the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) that allows nutrient pollutants from waste treatment plants to continue to be discharged, unchecked, into Puget Sound and the Washington State waters of the Salish Sea. Excess human-caused nutrient pollution has resulted in (and continues to exacerbate) damage to the Sound. This sewage pollution, particularly nitrogen, feeds algal blooms that harm marine life. It threatens vital salmon habitat, depletes oxygen levels in the water, and sets the Puget Sound back in our blue carbon goals for mitigating climate change.  

“Ecology’s own research shows that wastewater treatment facilities are driving the nutrient pollution damage to the Sound. The research also shows we can make a real difference by investing in wastewater treatment facility upgrades, today,” said Puget Soundkeeper Executive Director Sean Dixon. “Yet, this permit fails to set pollution limits, fails to require pollution reductions, and allows for pollution levels to increase. It focuses on planning, waiting, and watching, not acting.” 

Puget Soundkeeper appealed the permit to the Pollution Control Hearings Board to compel stronger controls on wastewater pollution. State law and the federal Clean Water Act require nothing less.

“Our region prides itself on innovation and environmental protection, yet our wastewater treatment facilities, particularly those in large cities, are outdated and inadequate,” Dixon continued. “No one is minimizing the scale and scope of the work ahead of us, but we must set the required systems, permits, and plans in place to ensure the long-term health of Puget Sound.”

“The law is clear. Clean water permits must require wastewater plants to employ all available and reasonable technology to control pollution. The permits must impose pollution limits to ensure that wastewater plants’ pollution discharges don’t violate water quality standards necessary to protect human health, and preserve the Sound and the Washington waters of the Salish Sea,” said Janette Brimmer, Senior Attorney at Earthjustice, which is representing Soundkeeper in this action. “Ecology’s permit fails to set limits and doesn’t drive reductions. ” 

“Water quality issues in Puget Sound are complex, but this issue is quite simple: stop adding more pollution,” says Alyssa Barton, Policy Manager for Puget Soundkeeper. “How will we make smart investments to reduce pollution if we won’t start by limiting it?”