The Associated Press
POST FALLS, Idaho — Federal officials have issued permits to three northern Idaho cities that limit how much pollution can be put into the Spokane River.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the permits to Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and the Hayden Area Regional Sewer Board, the Coeur d’Alene Press reported in a story Monday. The Spokane River is a tributary of the Columbia River.
“These permits will improve water quality throughout the Spokane River and Lake Spokane by requiring state-of-the-art treatment for phosphorus and oxygen-demanding pollutants,” said Christine Psyk, associate director of the Office of Water and Watersheds for EPA Region 10.
In addition, she said, wildlife habitat will be improved by preventing excess algae that also is a hazard for swimmers and boaters. She says fish also will be safer for human consumption.
The new permits become effective Dec. 1 and have a 10-year compliance schedule.
Post Falls faces a new final limit of 3.19 pounds of total phosphorus per day as a seasonal average. That’s about 65 times more stringent than current standards.
The agencies have 30 days to appeal the EPA permits, but officials with the cities said they don’t anticipate making appeals.
Sewer rates have been increasing for residents of the cities as managers work to meet the new standards that have been coming for a number of years.
“Permits must protect water quality in downstream states, and the new limits for phosphorous, oxygen demand and ammonia are based on meeting Washington’s water quality standards,” said Brian Nickel, EPA environmental engineer.