EPA Fails to Evaluate Washington’s Water Quality Standards

Over twenty years ago the Washington Department of Ecology water quality standards changes to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval. These standards, and updates made in the two decades since then, set the allowable levels of toxic chemicals for the protection of aquatic life. They include copper and ammonia – some of the most toxic to threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead. The Endangered Species Act requires EPA to consult with the federal fish and wildlife agencies to ensure that these allowable pollution levels will not jeopardize the existence of threatened and endangered species, an action EPA has not taken. On February 26th, NWEA filed a notice of intent to sue EPA for its failure to consult and for its failure to take action on various provisions in Washington’s water quality standards, many of which have the effect of suspending protections for aquatic life.