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Published on Friday, October 17, 2014

Governor’s Office Shares Toxics Reduction Proposal

A comprehensive non-point toxics reduction package is a major component of Governor Inslee’s proposed resolution to the multi-year fight over the new water quality rules. This is also referred to as the fish consumption issue which was discussed in a previous article. In recent weeks, the parameters of that proposal have begun coming into focus as well as being publicly discussed. A summary is available here.

This proposal includes legislation to create a more robust system for the Department of Ecology (Ecology) to identify chemicals of concern that are present in the people and environment of Washington. Ecology would then undertake a series of processes to evaluate those toxics, and develop a chemical action plan. This chemical action plan would identify the sources and potential ways to address that pollution, and which would ultimately result in a series of strategies to reduce contamination in the most cost effective way possible.

The centerpiece, and most contentious part, of this proposal is new authority for Ecology. Ecology could require alternative assessments to determine whether alternative chemicals could and should be used, and they could ultimately ban the sale, distribution, or use of products containing those toxics in the state.

This proposal is of interest to cities because cities become responsible for treating many of the chemicals in our stormwater or wastewater plants that actually come from consumer products and other up-stream sources. Responsible and effective approaches that can get these chemicals out before they reach our systems, and become incredibly complex and expensive to treat could be an important development for cities.

Several budget requests will accompany this proposal, some of which may also be of interest to cities. In particular, we are grateful that our suggestion to expand of local source control efforts is getting traction. This would be a helpful addition to these efforts.

AWC will be participating closely with this process, and would like to see it be successful. That said we are mindful of the need for strong sideboards to ensure a fair and balanced process, and to ensure transparency and access for the many stakeholders who are affected by these concepts. We look forward to the discussion, and welcome any feedback cities may have. Please contact Carl Schroeder.