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County Council Celebrates 40 Years of Clean Water

Summary

Council also approves update to Combined Sewer Overflow Control Plan

Story

The Metropolitan King County Council today recognized the forty year anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act and the ongoing effort to restore and protect King County’s waterways. The Council also unanimously approved an update to the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Control Plan, which will reduce the amount of untreated wastewater in Puget Sound and King County’s lakes and rivers.

“Access to clean water is fundamental to our health, economy, and quality of life,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips. “The Clean Water Act has protected our nation’s water as an essential resource for all Americans, and our hard work in King County adheres to the letter and the spirit of the law keeping our waterways pristine. We still have much work to do, and the CSO plan approved today continues our strong commitment to protecting the region’s water.”

“On this milestone for the Clean Water Act, we are reminded that clean water is essential to our well-being and quality of life—from the Cedar River to Lake Washington and Puget Sound,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson. “As a native Washingtonian and the father of young twins, I know how important it is to preserve the quality of our natural environment, not only for today but for future generations as well.”

“Serving on the Regional Water Quality Committee I know firsthand the great work King County does to abide by this law and I am proud to be a part of continuing the great tradition we have in this region for being able stewards of the environment,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn.

The federal Clean Water Act, enacted in 1972, set a national goal “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” It provided the first effective enforcement mechanism to ensure water quality standards were met.

Since the passage of the Clean Water Act, King County has invested in programs and infrastructure to protect and improve local water quality through stormwater management, industrial waste management, and wastewater treatment.

King County began implementing CSO control in 1979, and has made significant progress to meet federal and state CSO control standards. Since 1980, approximately $389 million has been spent to reduce untreated wastewater and CSO volumes from of 2 billion gallons per year in 1980 to the current volume of 800 million gallons per year.

King County reviews and updates the County’s long-term CSO Control Plan approximately every five years to support County decision-making and renewal of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permit for the West Point Treatment Plant.

The adopted update to the CSO Control Plan came from recommendations from the 2010-2012 technical review and public review process. The plan focuses on CSO projects in the Duwamish River, Elliott Bay, and the Lake Washington Ship Canal. The amendment reorders the remaining projects so that completion of CSO control projects in the Duwamish River area occur sooner to coincide with the anticipated cleanup schedules for the Lower Duwamish Waterway and East Waterway Superfund sites. In addition, the plan considers the use of green stormwater infrastructure in four projects to complement and potentially reduce the scale and cost of traditional CSO control techniques.

Under the Clean Water Act, which aims to ensure that all waters are fishable and swimmable, King County is committed to reducing untreated overflows from each CSO site to no more than one event per year.

RECOGNITION

WHEREAS, this year marks the 40th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act, which set a national goal “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters” and serves as the primary statute governing and protecting the quality of our country’s waters; and

WHEREAS, originally passed in 1948 as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, the 1972 amendments, known as the Clean Water Act, provided the first effective enforcement mechanism to ensure water quality standards were met; and

WHEREAS, the Clean Water Act established the basic structure for regulating pollution discharges into the nation’s waterways, gave the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to implement pollution control programs, and funded the construction of numerous sewage treatment plants at a time when two-thirds of our nation’s lakes, rivers, and coastal waters were unsafe for fishing or swimming, and untreated sewage and industrial waste were routinely dumped into waterways; and

WHEREAS, since the passage of the Clean Water Act, King County has invested in programs and infrastructure to protect and improve local water quality through stormwater management, industrial waste management, and wastewater treatment, including reducing combined sewer overflows, so that less than 800 million gallons of untreated wastewater flows annually into our waterways now, compared to more than 20 billion gallons annually of untreated and poorly treated wastewater in the 1970s; and

WHEREAS, King County continues its clean water mission to protect public health, enhance the environment, and implement social equity goals by leading the way with community and governmental partners to clean up and reduce polluted sediments at all wastewater outfalls, and particularly in the Lower Duwamish Waterway, where generations of people have relied upon fishing and shellfishing for sustenance; and

WHEREAS, King County continues improving the water quality of our streams, rivers, lakes, and Puget Sound, by employing new technologies, recycling resources, and developing new approaches and partnerships to meet our environmental challenges;

NOW, THEREFORE, we, the Metropolitan King County Council, recognize the

                                             
UNITED STATES CLEAN WATER ACT OF 1972

on the 40th anniversary of its enactment, as landmark legislation in the ongoing effort to protect and restore our country’s waters, protect human health, and support economic and recreational activities.

DATED this seventeenth day of September, 2012.



Contact the Council
Main phone:
206-477-1000
TTY/TDD:
206-296-1024
Fax:
206-296-0198