Applaud Agreement to Save Pacific Northwest Waterways

Target: Dennis McLerran, Regional EPA Administrator

Goal: Congratulate McLerran on an agreement with Seattle greatly reducing sewage pollution to the city’s surrounding waterways

Seattle recently reached an agreement with the EPA to completely revamp its sewer systems. The reason? Billions of gallons of raw sewage spewing into Seattle’s nearby waterways. Both Seattle and surrounding King County are way out of compliance with EPA standards for water pollution. They were both cited with numerous violations and have – according to multiple settlements – agreed to make a total of $1.46 billion in sewer-system upgrades.

According to federal officials, Seattle dumped 200 million gallons of raw sewage into waterways each year between 2007 and 2010. By the same estimate, surrounding King County dumped a staggering 900 million gallons per year into the vulnerable waters of the Pacific Northwest during that period.

This kind of pollution is devastating, both to local environments and the people that inhabit them. Sewage carries disease-causing pathogens and parasites that infect aquatic species. The chemicals and human waste flowing into the ocean also reduce seawater oxygen levels, effectively suffocating fish. Solids from sewage can even cover breeding or spawning areas, cutting off struggling species’ ability to reproduce.  On the human side of the equation, sewage pollution makes waters unfishable, closes commercial shellfish beds, causes flooding, and presents persistent public health concerns to those consuming fish caught in polluted waters.

By implementing recommended measures, the EPA estimates King County will reduce its raw sewage discharges by 95 to 99 percent. The figures for Seattle in particular are even better, estimates rising to a peachy 99 percent. At the same time, sewer renewal projects are a great opportunity to implement green infrastructure like green roofs, rain gardens and bioswales to improve water quality.

This is something the Puget Sound waterways surrounding Seattle badly need. The settlement states that Seattle must develop and implement long term sewage control plans by 2025; King county no later than 2030. With the finalization of this agreement, the Seattle area will be able – and required – to take big steps towards cleaner waterways. Thank Dennis McLerran of the EPA for his hard work on this eco-friendly settlement.


Dear Dennis McLerran,

The recent agreement reached on Seattle and King County’s water pollution settlements is a profound victory for Pacific Northwest waterways, area citizens, and environmental city planning. Your work on this proceeding is appreciated, and the agreement marks a welcome change in big-city sewage regulation.

Years of sewage and surface runoff dumping into the Puget Sound have taken a heavy toll on this vulnerable aquatic environment. Species extinction, water toxification, and even erosion of commercial fishing have resulted.  But thanks to the settlements with Seattle and King County, all this is being turned on its heel.

Thank you for your efforts. The legacy of this agreement will see the environmental health of Puget Sound waterways greatly improve.


[Your Name Here]

photo credit: Andrew E. Larsen via Flickr

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