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Updated Municipal Wastewater Discharge Permits Proposed for Three North Idaho Cities

Release Date: 07/18/2013
Contact Information: Mark MacIntyre, EPA/Seattle, 206-553-7302, macintyre.mark@epa.gov

Public invited to comment on new permits that will reduce phosphorous in the Spokane River, allow municipal dischargers more room for growth & more time to comply

Contact: Mark MacIntyre, EPA/Seattle, 206-553-7302, macintyre.mark@epa.gov

(Seattle, WA – July 18, 2013) Newly-proposed municipal wastewater discharge permits for three cities in Northern Idaho will reduce the flow of phosphorous and other pollutants into the Spokane River. Today’s action is part of a larger effort being undertaken by Idaho and Washington to protect Spokane River water quality on both sides of the border.

The proposed permits establish strict new discharge limits for total phosphorus, ammonia, and biochemical oxygen demand. These limits are necessary to ensure compliance with Idaho’s water quality criteria for nutrients and Washington’s water quality criteria for dissolved oxygen. If the treatment plants are unable to meet some of these new limits with existing equipment, the permits propose to allow the utilities 10 years to make upgrades and achieve compliance.

Theses proposed permits, EPA officials assert, will significantly reduce the amount of phosphorus each facility can discharge to the Spokane River.

According to Dan Opalski, director of EPA’s office of Water and Watersheds, the new permits strike a careful balance between economic and community development needs, and long-term water quality protection.

“These are strong, flexible permits,” said EPA’s Opalski. “They protect water quality by reducing phosphorous discharge, but also offer treatment plants the needed flexibility to serve their growing communities. The cities of Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene and Hayden deserve praise for working hard to help craft these permits and prepare their communities to meet the new requirements.”

Excessive phosphorus in rivers, lakes and streams supports algae growth, reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water and generally degrades water quality. Phosphorus overloading in rivers, lakes and reservoirs can affect both recreation and the well-being of fish and other aquatic life.

Today’s action follows similar discharge permits issued by the Washington Department of Ecology in 2011. Together, these permits are expected to further reduce phosphate pollution and help restore the Spokane River.

The Clean Water Act requires that all point sources discharging pollutants into waters of the United States must obtain an National Pollution Discharge Elimination System(NPDES) permit. By point sources, EPA means discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches. Some pollutants that may threaten public health and the nation's waters are: metals, nutrients human wastes, oil and grease, and pesticides, etc.

Public Comment Sought on Proposed Permits & State (ID) Certification
EPA will consider all comments before reissuing the final permits. Those wishing to comment on the draft permits may do so by Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013. All comments must be in writing and addressed to:

Spokane River NPDES Public Comments
Mail Stop OWW-130
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Sixth Ave.
Seattle, WA 98101
e-mail address for comments: nickel.brian@epa.gov

EPA has also scheduled a public workshop & hearing on Wednesday, August 28th at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library at 702 East Front Avenue in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The workshop will be from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM and the hearing will be from 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM.

IDEQ has reviewed the permits for consistency with State requirements and has provided comments to EPA for incorporation into the permits. Those interested in reviewing IDEQ's preliminary comments can request them by writing to:

Regional Administrator
Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
Coeur d’Alene Regional Office
2110 Ironwood Pkwy
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814
e-mail address for comments: Daniel.Redline@deq.idaho.gov

Permit-Related Documents Available
The draft permit and fact sheet can also be found by visiting the Region 10 Water Permits website at:

http://epa.gov/r10earth/waterpermits.htm

http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/water.nsf/NPDES+Public+Notices/pn_coeurdalene_postfalls_hayden