Saturday, January 30, 2010
An important legal settlement has been reached which could have far reaching consequences for improvement of the State's Water Quality problems. Coincidentally, State Legislators are currently working on important bills which may pass this year and provide funding to help- municipalities address these water quality problems that are their responsibilities.
The following article is from The Olympian. http://www.theolympian.com/environment/story/1116689.html
State to reduce stormwater pollution from highways
By GENE JOHNSON
Washington state will do more to prevent polluted stormwater from running off state highways into rivers, lakes and Puget Sound, where it poses a serious threat to salmon and other aquatic life.
In a legal settlement filed Tuesday, the state Department of Transportation agreed that whenever it builds new highways in Western Washington, it will also spend a little bit of money to retrofit old ones – thousands of miles of which were constructed without sediment ponds or other pollution controls.
The environmental law firm Earthjustice and the group Puget Soundkeeper Alliance challenged the DOT’s stormwater discharge permit before the Pollution Control Hearings Board last year, saying it didn’t meet the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act.
“This is a 7,000-mile highway system that generates enormous amounts of pollutants, most of which are discharged directly into waters without any treatment or storage whatsoever,” Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman said. “The amount of copper coming off a highway is staggering compared to the levels that we know affect salmon.”
The state Ecology Department said stormwater runoff is a major source of the 52 million pounds of toxic chemicals, such as oil, PCBs and heavy metals, that end up in Puget Sound each year. Copper is particularly troubling for young salmon because it destroys their sense of smell and prevents them from avoiding predators.
Environmental groups have been pressing the state to get a handle on runoff, not just from highways but from cities and businesses as well.
photo credit - Janet Way