EPA Fines Toppenish for Excess Wastewater Discharges

The agency said the city will pay $134,500 for violating its NPDES permit during 2008-2010.

The city of Toppenish will pay $134,500 for excess pollution discharges from its municipal sewage treatment facility in violation of its Clean Water Act permit, according to an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The violations spanned more than two years, from 2008-2010.

The facility treats domestic wastewater from residential and commercial sources. The violations took place on Yakama tribal land, but the facility is not owned by the tribe. The facility discharges wastewater into the Toppenish Drain, which flows to the Yakima River.

The facility exceeded levels of ammonia, zinc, and copper allowed in its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit more than 1,800 times between 2008-2010. Ammonia constituted the majority of the violations. The facility worked to comply with its permit when it identified the unauthorized discharges, replaced faulty equipment, and has since been in compliance.

“Pollutant discharge limits safeguard our waterways against environmental harm,” said Kimberly Ogle, NPDES Unit Manager at EPA’s Seattle office. “Facilities have a responsibility to stick to approved levels. The city of Toppenish worked hard to come into compliance, and since they reported these violations, their discharge record has improved.”

Ammonia occurs naturally and is also produced by human activity. Exposure to high levels of ammonia can cause irritation and serious burns on the skin and in the mouth, throat, lungs, and eyes. Ammonia and heavy metals like zinc and copper, even in small amounts, can be highly toxic to aquatic organisms, including fish.

Source: EPA