September 15, 2008
EPA Error Allows Increased Water Pollution in N. Idaho, 179
Regulators announced that cities in northern Idaho have been discharging too much treated sewage into the Spokane River, after it was discovered the Environmental Protection Agency made an error in calculating how much of the phosphorous-laden material could be released into the waterway.
Treated sewage from about 500,000 residents flows into the river, which runs about 111 miles from Lake Coeur d'Alene to the Columbia River in Washington, the Seattle Times reports on Thursday.
The error set phosphorous limits of 50 parts per billion for Idaho cities, while dischargers in Washington State were allowed only 10 parts per billion. Phosphorous, vital in small amounts to aquatic ecosystems, can spur algae blooms and kill fish and other animals if introduced at higher levels.
The Spokesman Review in Spokane, Wash. broke the story, reporting that discovery of the error has held up efforts by the Washington Department of Ecology to issue final permits that would have reduced the state's phosphorous discharges by 95 percent.
The EPA will meet with representatives of the affected Idaho cities this month to discuss the error.
Credit: IBR staff report
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