It’s been years in the making, but it appears Spokane County will soon receive a draft permit in order to operate its new wastewater treatment plant near Trent and Freya.
Discharge from the $173 million plant – which will largely serve the Spokane Valley area – will likely go into the Spokane River.
It had been expected that a permit would have been received earlier this month. However, concerns over pollutants – particularly cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – raised by the Spokane Tribe caused the delay.
But Spokane County officials have countered that the new plant will be one of the most advanced ever built and that discharge will be virtually free of both phosphorus – which triggers algae growth in the river – and PCBs.
Last week, DOE officials said they believe they have addressed much of the tribe’s concerns with the formation of a Regional Toxics Task Force to monitor pollutant levels.
In 2010, the Washington state Department of Ecology and federal Environmental Protection Agency agreed to a Spokane River cleanup plan that limits the amount of pollutants that can be discharged to the river.
In addition to Spokane County’s treatment plant, which is expected to be ready for operational test runs later this summer, updated permits are also expected to be issued for the city of Spokane, Liberty Lake Sewer and Water District, Kaiser Aluminum and a draft permit for the Inland Empire Paper Co.
Some existing permits were extended while new standards were developed.
“The new permits will make a huge difference in the quality of water in the river and in Lake Spokane,” Jim Bellanty, who manages DOE’s Water Quality program in Spokane, said last year.