Water Quality Standards Rule-Making

Water Quality Standards Rule-Making

Water Quality Standards Rule-Making

I'm Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.

Fish can harbor toxics such as mercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and dioxins from living in contaminated waters. Thus the state's fish consumption rates effect the tolerated levels for water pollution; the more fish consumed the lower the amount of pollution allowed. During a recent media conference state Department of Ecology Special Assistant Kelly Susewind discussed what's being proposed for updating the state's water quality standards to more accurately reflect the amount of fish people consume to 175 grams per day, as opposed to just one fish meal a month, and lowering water pollution at the source.

SUSEWIND: We'll run the equation for all the chemicals using 10 to the minus 5 and the new consumption rate, and in a case where that results in a standard that is less protective than today we will use today's standard. We'll promulgate a new standard equivalent to today's. So, it will be a new standard officially under the rules, but it will be the same as today's. If our current standard is 10 units of pollution, and the new standard would be restricting people to 5 units of pollution, we'll use the new standard of 5. If the calculated number were to allow 15 units of pollution, we'll say, "no that's more than we allow today", we'll restrict it to 10.

A meeting for key interest groups and the general public was held by Ecology yesterday to discuss the next steps in updating the state's water quality standards. Susewind explains what happens now.

SUSEWIND: We will send out the draft rule in September. We're available to meet with folks, and then once we have a formal draft rule there will be public hearings, public comment periods, etc. So basically our normal outreach approach for new rules.

For further information visit Ecology's website at www.ecy.wa.gov.

That's Washington Ag Today.

I'm Lacy Gray on the Ag Information Network.

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