Federal water quality standards withdrawal disappoints Washington State Ecology Director
April 23, 2020
On April 16, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (epa.gov) announced their final rule to withdraw the federal water quality standards for certain human health criteria in Washington (40 CFR 131.45) The final rule will be effective 30 days after posting in the Federal Register.
Washington State Department of Ecology Director Laura Watson issued a statement last Friday, April 18, on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to roll back the water quality standards for Washington state that the agency approved in 2016:
“The EPA’s decision flies in the face of Washington state’s wishes. EPA ignored state and tribal objections to roll back water quality standards in Washington. It is disappointing that EPA continues to see states as obstacles instead of partners.
“It is unconscionable that EPA would diminish water quality standards aimed at protecting human health in the middle of a public health crisis. EPA’s decision is bad for Washingtonians and is especially hard on tribal nations and communities who rely on fishing for traditional diets and work.
“It is also illegal. EPA’s repeal of Washington’s existing standards violates the federal Clean Water Act. We have challenged this illegal action in court.”
Washington’s water quality standards for Human Health Criteria regulate pollution in marine and fresh waters to prevent adverse, long-term effects for consumption of fish such as salmon and trout. Washington’s current standards have been in effect for more than three years. In that time, Ecology has worked with businesses and local governments, environmental groups, and treaty tribes, on implementation of the complex matrix of standards.