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Postharvest Information Network

Sunday, March 24, 2019

WSU-TFREC/Postharvest Information Network/Water Quality, Water Availability, and Salmon Recovery

Water Quality, Water Availability, and Salmon Recovery

Fresh Fruit Packing Water Quality Permits

Permit and Discharge Summary

General water quality permits are issued for 5 years by the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology). Permits were first issued in June 1994 and then reissued in July 1999. No major changes are expected during this current permit cycle. However, construction sites greater than one acre that have surface water discharge will require Construction Stormwater Permit Coverage starting in 2003 (requirement reduced from current 5 acres).

The number of general water quality permits by county (220 total) is as follows:

  • Yakima - 110
  • Chelan - 46
  • Okanogan - 41
  • Douglas - 20
  • Benton - 1
  • Kittitas - 1
  • Klickitat - 1

The number of discharges to each treatment/disposal method (TDM) is as follows:

  • Dust abatement - 123
  • Publicly owned treatment works (POTW) - 72
  • Percolation system - 65
  • Surface water - 65
  • Land application - 49
  • Lined evaporative lagoon - 17

The total number of discharges is greater than the total number of permits because many of the facilities have multiple discharges.

Permit Successes

There is increased recognition by the fruit industry that properly handling wastewater is a normal part of doing business. Permit holders are showing a greater awareness of the proper methods of treating and disposing wastewater. Ecology is receiving an increased number of request for technical assistance (approximately 400 per year) and facilities are upgrading their TDMs. Examples include:

  • Two constructed wetlands
  • Several lined evaporative and storage lagoons installed
  • POTW connections made
  • Better water distribution on land application systems.

Increased permit compliance has reduced the number of monitoring violations, as shown in Figure 1 and Table 1.

Figure 1. Monitoring violations (1995 to 1998).

Table 1. Monitoring violations summary (1995 to 1998).

  1995 1996 1997 1998
Total number of violations28031545839858
Average violations per facility12.
Parameters in violation (% of total)

Overall, there is better wastewater monitoring, although there are still opportunities for reducing "non-report" violations (required tests not run). New preprinted customized yearly facility reports were developed and 95% have been submitted for 1999. There is also better tracking of wastewater application through the use of the batch mix record form.

Goals for Current Permit Cycle

Ecology and industry should continue working together to proactively address water quality issues. Examples are listed below:

  • Developing guidance for proper treatment and disposal of wastewater containing pear float enhancers, including:
    • Using roll-over dumpers to eliminate the need for float enhancers (an example of pollution prevention [P2])
    • Developing pretreatment procedures for wastewater containing various float enhancers
    • Investigating the effect of float enhancers on various TDMs (trials are being conducted by Underwood Fruit and the Bingen POTW to determine the effects of sodium sulfate on a POTW)
  • Determining treatment effectiveness of percolation ponds, including a literature search and monitoring at selected sites
  • Continuing treatment system upgrades as needed for compliance with the permit
  • Increasing P2 awareness: prevention is cheaper and faster than treatment
  • Eliminating "non-reporting" violations
  • Continuing trend of all violations decreasing (2800 in 1995 to 860 in 1998)
  • Looking for ways to improve the permit: simplify and clarify

For more information about the general permit, contact Steven R. Huber at:
Washington State Department of Ecology
Central Regional Office
15 West Yakima Ave., Suite 200
Yakima, WA 98902
Phone (509) 454-7298
Fax (509) 575-2809

Water Availability and Salmon Recovery

The Water Challenge

  • Foster rural economic development
  • Manage population growth
  • Restore salmon runs

A Water Resource Vision

  • Natural resource base
  • Water market
  • Information-based management
  • Shared governance

Establish a Natural Resource Base

  • Adequate quantity/quality for properly functioning, healthy watershed
  • Sufficient to meet esthetic, recreational, and other human needs for streamflows
  • Base is defined, established, and set aside in each watershed

Instream Flows

  • In state law, instream flows are for preservation of existing flows for fish
  • Take what's left (unallocated) for fish
  • Wet year: senior rights get water; fish production has optimum flows
  • Dry year: senior rights get water; fish instream flows are not met
  • Fish flows are senior to subsequent water users (junior rights)
  • Adopt rule to establish instream flow
  • Rule = an appropriation of water; with priority date of the rule
  • Instream flows may only be met once in 3, 10, or more years, depending on climate and channel shape, even under natural conditions

Target Flows

  • From federal law - biologically-based flows to ensure fish survival and healthy populations
  • Must be achievable and is required to be achieved with a degree of certainty
  • No priority date or predetermined relationship to other water rights
  • Target flows = restoration flows for salmon recovery and to satisfy ES

Salmon Recovery Strategy

  • Retain or provide adequate amounts of water to protect and restore fish habitat
  • Protect flows in watersheds with healthy fish and high population growth
  • Restore flows where they are diminished by existing uses
  • Comply with ESA to ensure water use does not result in "take" of listed species

Features of the Future

  • A water code that recognizes growth, changing economy, and salmon recovery
  • Watershed plans adopted in state and local rules
  • An administrative system with state and local governance roles and a streamlined judicial system
  • An effective and sustained public education program
  • Adequate funding for new infrastructure

Polly Zehm, Regional Director

Washington State Department of Ecology
15 West Yakima Ave., Suite 200
Yakima, WA 98902-3401

16th Annual Postharvest Conference, Yakima, WA
March 14-15,  2000

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