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Published on Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New water quality study released

A report commissioned by AWC, in partnership with the Washington State Association of Counties and the Association of Washington Business, is generating a lot of buzz, both within the state’s water quality rulemaking processes and from the media. During the last week, it’s been used to brief Governor Inslee and his informal advisory group, as well as the Directors of the state departments of Ecology and Commerce.

The report’s key findings were that even if cities installed the most advanced technology available today, they still would not be able to meet the new water quality standards being proposed by the state. And, implementing that technology could cost ratepayers billions of dollars (for example, a five-million-gallon-a-day system would see an additional $75-$210 million in upgrade costs). The City of Bellingham estimated that it would cost $1 to $1.8 billion and require monthly residential utility bills of $200-$250 to implement this technology in their community.

AWC ensured the report included cost estimate information that allows individual facilities to easily determine its estimated costs. Depending on the size of your wastewater facility, you can do the math using the “dollars per gallon unit cost” charts on page 38 or 42 of the report. Please let AWC lobbyist Carl Schroeder know if you develop any estimates for your own community or have questions about how to do so.

The Governor created a Creative Solutions Group which is searching for additional means to address water quality issues. AWC is actively involved in that group and is committed to working with all other parties to find a balanced and practical solution to this issue that will provide the health protections sought by this rule, without these unintended consequences.

AWC was quoted in two separate news articles on the topic this week, including the following by CEO Mike McCarty:

“Cities around the state support Governor Inslee’s efforts to find a balanced and practical solution to this issue,” said Mike McCarty, CEO of the Association of Washington Cities. “Cities collectively operate hundreds of treatment plants cleaning up hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater each day. We believe utility ratepayers shouldn’t be faced with billions of dollars in investments that still expose them to significant legal liability because standards can’t be met. Some cities estimate residential utility bills could increase to as much as $200 a month under this scenario,” he said. “Instead, we’d like to find a creative and balanced solution that looks at the sources of the toxics and how to get and keep them out of the water.”

Full news articles:
Washington Alliance for a Competitive Economy
Washington State Wire