Public comment sought on new water quality standards

WA State Dept. of Ecology Press Release


OLYMPIA, WA-- The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is taking public comment over the next two months on the first major overhaul of the state's water quality standards in a decade.

The water quality standards set limits on pollution in Washington's lakes, rivers and marine waters in order to protect water quality for swimming, fishing, fish habitat, agriculture and drinking water. They also set the foundation for other programs such as wastewater permits and water cleanup plans.

Ecology is proposing to change several key aspects of the standards, including existing rules for temperature, dissolved oxygen, bacteria and ammonia. New rules would protect the threatened bull trout and help keep water supplies safe for agriculture.

"This proposal reflects the latest science and incorporates new state and federal requirements - all aimed at making our waters clean and safe for people, fish and wildlife," said Megan White, who manages the water quality program for Ecology.

"We've done our best to protect the environment while balancing sometimes sharply conflicting viewpoints," said White. "If anyone has a better proposal, we want to hear it."

Public comment on the proposed standards will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, March 7. Verbal testimony will be accepted at eight public hearings, and written comments may be submitted via mail, fax or e-mail. The hearings are scheduled for:

Jan. 27 in Wenatchee: Chelan Co. Auditorium, 400 Douglas
Jan. 28 in Spokane: Spokane Falls Comm. College, Student Union Bldg., Lounge AB, 3410 W. Fort George Wright Dr.
Jan. 29 in Pasco: Columbia Basin College, 2600 N. 20th Ave.
Jan. 30 in Yakima: Ecology Central Region Office, 15 W. Yakima Ave., Ste. 200
Feb. 3 in Bellingham: Whatcom County Courthouse, 311 Grand Ave.
Feb. 4 in Seattle: Seattle Center, Northwest Rooms: Lopez Rm., 305 Harrison St.
Feb. 5 in Port Angeles: Vern Burton Center, 308 E. 4th St.
Feb. 6 in Vancouver: Water Resources Center, 4600 S.E. Columbia Way

For all locations, workshops on the water quality standards will begin at 6 p.m. and public hearings will start at 8 p.m.


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