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SHORELINE DEVELOPMENT PERMIT FOR PROPOSED SEWAGE PLANT APPEALED

Washington Trout Challenges Treated-Sewage Discharge Into Important Salmon Habitat

According to King County, prime Chinook salmon habitat, adjacent to a "natural area," is the best place to dump 450,000 gallons a day of sewage effluent. On February 22, 2006, King County issued a permit to itself to construct a pipeline that will discharge the effluent directly into the Snoqualmie River.
Duvall, WA Mar 16, 2006

 

PRESS RELEASE

WASHINGTON TROUT

PO Box 402 Duvall, WA 98019 · Tel 425/788-1167 · Fax 425/788-9634 · wildfish@washingtontrout.org
Contact:
Mark Hersh, Washington Trout; 425/788-1167; mark@washingtontrout.org

Shoreline Development Permit For Proposed Sewage Plant Appealed

According to King County, prime Chinook salmon habitat, adjacent to a “natural area,” is the best place to dump 450,000 gallons a day of sewage effluent. On February 22, 2006, King County issued a permit to itself to construct a pipeline that will discharge the effluent directly into the Snoqualmie River.  The planned Carnation sewage treatment plant will discharge the treated sewage and other municipal wastewater into the river at Carnation Farm Road, immediately upstream of the Chinook Bend Natural Area, a 59-acre riverside site donated to King County by the Nestle Corporation and managed by the county as a “conservation preserve.” The effluent will threaten developing chinook and other salmon from the egg stage through emigration to saltwater.  Threatened Puget Sound chinook and other salmon spawn in areas immediately downstream from the proposed discharge site.  Washington Trout, a non-profit salmon conservation organization, has filed an appeal of the permit.

According to King County, Chinook Bend is supposed to be managed “to conserve and enhance ecological value,” and over 20% of the natural chinook spawning in the Snoqualmie watershed takes place within the Natural Area. Puget Sound chinook were listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1999.  In environmental reviews of the proposal, including a state Environmental Impact Statement and a federal Environmental Assessment, the county minimized salmon use of the river downstream of the discharge site.  The reviews also admit that the plant will also facilitate development of Carnation, which will cause additional degradation of water quality through nonpoint source pollution.

Carnation’s currently uses on-lot septic systems to treat its sewage, and the county says that enough systems were failing as long ago as 1988 to create a health hazard.  “We support the community’s efforts to improve water quality,” said Kurt Beardslee, Executive Director of Washington Trout.  “But at a time when people all through the Puget Sound region are taking action to recover salmon, does King County really consider productive chinook spawning habitat the best location for getting rid of its sewage effluent?”

In October 2004 King County completed a state environmental review process of the proposed treatment plant without choosing between three discharge alternatives, an upland discharge into groundwater, a wetland discharge, or the river discharge.  Both the upland and wetland alternatives would provide additional water treatment and be easier to monitor.  Six weeks after an appeal period ended, King County eliminated the upland discharge alternative claiming the soils were inadequate, even though the sites themselves were never tested.  They rejected the wetland option unless additional funding could be found in only four months. Funding was not secured, and the county adopted the river discharge alternative.

King County says it is still considering the wetland option if funding can be secured, but in the meantime they are going ahead with the river discharge. The treatment plant is scheduled to be on line by late 2007.  “Is this the best we can expect from one of the wealthiest and progressive communities in the United States?  King County could have led by example, committed a few extra dollars, and begun work on the wetland option any time in the last eighteen months.” said Beardslee.

Washington Trout is represented by Smith and Lowney, PLLC, of Seattle.

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