State proposes rule to protect Puget Sound from vessels dumping

Submitted by the Washington Department of Ecology

To help protect shellfish beds, swimming beaches, and vulnerable natural areas, the Washington Department of Ecology has proposed a rule to protect the Puget Sound from vessels dumping raw or treated sewage into Puget Sound.

The draft rule is available for review and comment through Nov. 30.

The No Discharge Zone would prohibit the discharge of sewage across 2,300 square miles of marine waters in Puget Sound. This includes all marine waters east of New Dungeness Lighthouse and the Discovery Island Lighthouse to the Canadian border, and fresh waters of Lake Washington, Lake Union, and connecting waters between and to Puget Sound.

The rule comes after five years of stakeholder engagement and public outreach. Ecology gathered data on Puget Sound vessels, pump-out facilities, and the conditions of Puget Sound, as well as conducted boater surveys and research on other states with No Discharge Zones.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency evaluated and approved Ecology’s request earlier this year, determining that the Puget Sound meets the federal standards for a No Discharge Zone.

The no-discharge zone would be the first in Washington and the Northwest. EPA has established more than 90 such zones in 26 states.

Public hearings

Ecology is hosting three public hearings: Those interested can join by online webinar or in person.

Hearing 1 (webinar only)

· When: 2 p.m., Nov. 13, 2017

· Where: By webinar

Hearing 2 (webinar only)

· When: 6 p.m., Nov. 13, 2017

· Where: By webinar

Hearing 3 (in-person only)

· When: 11 a.m., Nov. 15, 2017

· Where: South Seattle College’s Georgetown Campus

6737 Corson Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98108