Wastewater Discharge Permits Pushed in Northern Idaho

By Paige Browning

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new wastewater discharge permits for the municipalities of Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, and Hayden.

The proposal contains new conditions that the cities further limit the discharge of nutrients, specifically phosphorus, into the Spokane River. All three utilities currently abide by permits set in 1999. Michael Lidgard is unit manager for the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System.
 
Lidgard says the EPA recognizes that the "city’s are most likely going to need to do some facility upgrades in order to meet these more stringent limits." He says there are a number of different technology options that they have. Lidgard says facilities in Coeur d’Alene have already started testing some of those technologies.

The cities would have bench-marks over the next ten years to achieve compliance. The EPA says it’s part of an ongoing effort to reduce pollution, and would result in fewer algae blooms among other things.
 
The Idaho utilities sued the EPA in 2010 based on the permits approved for dischargers in Washington. After hearing concerns, the EPA has been in discussions about permits with Idaho’s towns. 

Public comments are welcome through September 3rd, addressed to Spokane River N-P-D-E-S Public Comments, at the EPA’s Seattle office. The EPA will also host a hearing August 28th at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library.

Copyright 2013 Spokane Public Radio

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