Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Washington Dept. of Ecology proposes changes to water quality permits for boatyards

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) recently proposed updating the water quality permit for boatyards that would update the requirements to better address toxic stormwater and wastewater discharges, which would impact approximately 70 boatyards in Western Washington.

In the repair and maintenance work boatyards undertake, including pressure washing, painting, engine repair, welding and grinding, the yards can release contaminants such as copper, lead and zinc, which are harmful to aquatic habitats. Those contaminants are also challenging to remove from waterways once they have been introduced, resulting in expensive cleanup projects.

The updated permits would specifically regulate lead discharge levels from boatyards on Lake Union and the Lake Washington Ship Canal, waterways that currently do not meet lead water quality standards. Elevated lead levels are of particular concern due to the material’s potential to enter the food chain and harm aquatic life, animals and humans. The updated permit requirements would also shift from a paper reporting model to an electronic one.

Ecology has scheduled two public hearings on the proposed changes, one in Everett on April 19 and one in Lacey on April 20, which will be webcast for those unable to attend in person. The department is accepting public comments on the changes until April 29.

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Washington Department of Ecology

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