Puget Sound – Georgia Basin Ecosystem Conference
(February 8th – 11th 2009)
The Puget Sound – Georgia Basin Ecosystem Conference is a biennial conference, which focuses on scientific research and policy in the Salish Sea region. The theme for the 2009 conference is The Future of the Salish Sea: A Call to Action .
The Sustainable Fisheries Foundation was involved in the 2009 conference by jointly sponsoring a session, along with the WA-BC Chapter, American Fisheries Society, entitled: Wastewaters In The Salish Sea: From Science to Solutions
Huge volumes of treated and untreated wastewaters are discharged into the Salish Sea each day. Of particular concern is the discharge of about 130 million litres/day of untreated municipal wastewater from two outfalls at Victoria. The session was comprised of five Canadian and U.S. experts who:
- provided an overview of the extent of the problem and its effects on the ecosystem,
- established the scientific basis for negative effects of wastewater discharges,
- described recent monitoring improvements,
- proposed innovative solutions to the perceived problems, and
- participated in a panel discussion among the experts and the audience.
Session Summary: Wastewaters In The Salish Sea: From Science to Solutions
- Introduction – Dr. Eric Knudsen, Sustainable Fisheries Foundation (moderator)
- Impacts of Wastewater on the Salish Sea — Dr. Andrea Copping, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
- Improved estimates of loading from dischargers of municipal and industrial wastewaters — Mr. Kevin Fitzpatrick, WA State Department of Ecology
- Current drivers for improving water quality and treatment and diversion strategies for managing wastewater. Messrs. David Clark and Patrick Roe, HDR Engineering
- Treating Waste as a Resource, a Tool to Fight Climate Change, Mr. Stephen Salter, P.Eng., Farallon Consultants, Inc.
Impacts of Wastewater on the Salish Sea
Dr. Andrea Copping, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Abstract: This presentation will set the stage for discussing and evaluating the importance of wastewater discharges into the Salish Sea. Taking a risk-based approach, we will examine the quantity and quality of wastewater that enters the system from outfalls in Puget Sound and the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Georgia. Looking at the dispersal characteristics of the marine waters, wastewater chemistry, and toxicology, we will evaluate the impacts these discharges may be having on water quality, living marine resources, aquatic foodchains, and human uses of the marine environment.
Mr. Kevin Fitzpatrick, Washington Department of Ecology
Abstract: Recent estimates of toxic chemical loading from municipal and industrial wastewater dischargers to Puget Sound have been incomplete. Ecology conducted this study to refine its understanding of the wastewater loading pathway. The reported total volume of wastewater discharged from permitted point sources to the Puget Sound Basin was approximately 174,000 million gallons per year (mgy). The majority of the discharge (75 percent) was from municipal wastewater treatment plants. Most of this volume came from just a few of the facilities; the top 15 individual dischargers combined discharged 76 percent of the total. The water quality data used in this study had several limitations. First, few pollutants (only seven) had enough data to support development of credible loading estimates. A second limitation was the inconsistent and sometimes high detection limits reported for many of the chemicals. A third significant limitation concerned the estimated pollutant loadings for industrial facilities. Depending upon the pollutant, only 10 to 23 of a total of 75 industrial facilities could be included in the loading calculations. Also, an important simplifying assumption was that 100 percent of the pollutants in wastewater discharges that flowed into the rivers and streams of the Puget Sound Basin eventually reached the marine waters of Puget Sound. The primary conclusion from this analysis is that the contributions of toxic chemicals from wastewater dischargers were small relative to the total loadings from all of the major loading sources to Puget Sound (including, for example, atmospheric deposition and surface runoff). Surface runoff has been the largest contributing source of toxic chemicals to Puget Sound. For those pollutants with sufficient data, the estimated portion of the total loadings from wastewater dischargers ranged from 1.9 to 8.9 percent of the total loading from surface runoff to Puget Sound.
Current drivers for improving water quality and treatment and diversion strategies for managing wastewater, Messrs. David Clark and Patrick Roe, HDR Engineering.
Abstract: In the United States, environmental groups are encouraging the US Environmental Protection Agency to reclassify conventional secondary wastewater treatment to include removal of nutrients, primarily nitrogen and phosphorus. In southern Puget Sound, advance water quality research has shown that removal of nitrogen is required to achieve water quality objectives. In addition, initial wastewater treatment research has revealed that processes which remove nutrients may also be effective at removing some microconstituents (also referred to as endocrine disruptors) found in pharmaceutical and personal care products. Current trends are therefore towards advanced levels of wastewater treatment, rather than historical approaches. The panel members will briefly discuss advanced treatment methods, as well as diversion approaches, such as water reuse. The LOTT Alliance that serves the communities of Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater and Thurston County at the very southern end of Puget Sound, has already implemented nitrogen removal from wastewater and implementation of water recycling, to improve water quality, and the engineering members of our panel will discuss this approach.
Stephen Salter, PEng., President, Farallon Consultants Limited
Abstract: Discussions about wastewater and solid organic waste often focus on minimizing the costs and impacts of disposal. What if instead we modeled our cities on nature’s closed cycles, where waste does not exist? What if we looked at the economic, environmental, and social benefits of recovering heat, biofuels, minerals, and water from waste? This presentation will illustrate how cities in Europe are profiting by recovering resources from liquid and solid waste. The presentation will show that resource recovery technologies are practical and economical, and will concentrate on the policy and social factors which promote resource recovery in Europe but until recently have discouraged it in North America. The presentation will conclude with a set of principles which can help communities plan an integrated approach to recovering resources from waste.