July 23, 2013
Spokane County Utilities
On July 19, 2013, the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board ruled that the discharge permit for Spokane County’s Regional Water Reclamation Facility does NOT violate anti-degradation regulations and the facility may continue to operate and discharge into the Spokane River.
According to Utilities Director Kevin Cooke, it’s good news for the Spokane River and the region, “The Water Reclamation Facility is discharging much cleaner water, thanks to its state-of-the-art design. The use of advanced treatment technology is also reducing PCBs in the river to potentially undetectable levels.” (During the 20th Century, Polychlorinated Biphenyls were widely used in transformers, capacitors and electric motors. Due to PCBs’ toxicity and classification as a carcinogenic organic pollutant, production was banned in the United States in 1979.)
The Pollution Control Hearings Board decision remanded a small portion of the permit for a few minor revisions related to the source control action plan. It asks the State Department of Ecology to use the ongoing monitoring to develop numeric effluent limits for PCBs.
Since beginning operations in December 2011, the facility has achieved treatment levels for pollution that are some of the most stringent in the nation. The water that is discharged into the Spokane River from the facility has the lowest levels of nutrient pollution in the United States - 90-percent more efficient at removing phosphorus and PCBs than the City’s treatment plant. In addition, the facility is producing Class A reclaimed water for beneficial reuse, with the potential to provide water for local industry processes to recharging wetlands.
The Regional Water Reclamation Facility cost approximately $143-million to design and construct and remains the largest capital project in the history of Spokane County. The plant’s sustainable design allows energy recovered in the treatment process to produce electricity to help run the facility. Together, Avista Utilities and Spokane County received an energy efficiency award for the inclusion of energy-saving design components.
In its first year of operation, the Spokane County Regional Water Reclamation Facility received the Leadership in Innovation Award from the Washington Industrial Energy Leaders, the Design-Build National Award from the Design-Build Institute of America, and CH2M Hill’s “Excellence in Safety Program Award”.
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