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Updated Municipal Wastewater Discharge Permits Proposed for Three North Idaho Cities

Release Date: 02/15/2007
Contact Information: Michael Lidgard, EPA/Seattle, 206-553-1755, lidgard.michael@epa.gov; Mark MacIntyre, EPA/Seattle, 206-553-7302, macintyre.mark@epa.gov

Phosphorus Reduction Expected to Help Spokane River Downstream

(Spokane, Wash. Feb. 15, 2007) The U.S. EPA has proposed to issue updated municipal wastewater discharge permits to the cities of Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and the Hayden Area Regional Sewer Board. This action is part of a larger cooperative effort being mounted by Idaho and Washington to protect Spokane River water quality.

EPA officials assert that the new proposed permits, drafted by the Agency under the federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), will significantly reduce the amount of phosphorus that each facility will be able to discharge to the Spokane River. They were designed and written to better protect water quality and human health by setting limits and conditions on pollutants each wastewater treatment plant can discharge to waters of the United States.

Excessive phosphorus supports algae growth, reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water and generally degrades Spokane River water quality. Too much phosphorus in the river can affect both recreation and the well-being of fish and other aquatic life.

According to Mike Gearheard, Director of EPA’s office of Water and Watersheds, these new permits balance community development needs with long term water quality protection.

“This is a real step forward in our work to restore and protect the Spokane River,” Gearheard said. “If implemented as proposed, these new permits will reduce phosphorus and improve water quality in the Spokane River, while at the same time providing each facility with the flexibility they need to serve their growing communities.”

    Today’s action will be followed by additional permits for other direct dischargers in Washington, issued by the Washington Department of Ecology later this year. Together, these permits and further phosphate reduction throughout the valley is expected to 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 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, 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, April 17, 2007. All comments must be in writing and addressed to:

        Brian Nickel
        Mail Stop OWW-130
        U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
        1200 Sixth Ave.
        Seattle, WA 98101


        EPA has also scheduled a public workshop & hearing on Wednesday, April 4, 2007, from 5:00 to 9:00 PM at:
        The Lake City Senior Center
        1916 Lakewood Drive
        Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814
        Telephone: 208-667-4628
          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: Roger.Tinkey@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

          or by contacting Mike Lidgard (2060-553-1755) or Brian Nickel (206-553-6251)

          For more about the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program:

          http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/index.cfm
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