The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and City of Wapato Settle over Wastewater Treatment Discharge Violations
- By Shereen Hashem
- Aug 17, 2021
Alleged violations of the Clean Water Act sparked a settlement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the City of Wapato, Washington at its city wastewater treatment facility. Wapato is located in Washington’s Yakima County, within the external boundaries of the Yakama Nation Reservation and discharges to tribal water.
EPA claims that the city failed to comply with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit at the facility. The permit covers discharges of pollutants into a drainage way within the Wapato Irrigation Project, draining into Wanity Slough and emptying into the Yakima River before flowing to the Columbia River at Richland, Washington. Wanity Slough has many salmon and trout, and the Yakima River is widely used for agriculture, recreation as well as ceremonies.
Alleged violations include:
• 3,000 effluent limit violations for exceedances of ammonia, copper and zinc.
• Failure to update the facility’s Quality Assurance Plan.
• Failure to update the facility’s Operations and Maintenance Plan.
The City agreed to pay $25,750 in penalties as a part of the settlement and entered into an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC), requiring the City to take specific actions to prevent excess pollutant discharge. The plant’s violations mainly account for Zinc, which is very harmful to fish. The City applied for water quality funding from the Washington State Department of Ecology where it will now use the money to remove the zinc from its discharge. Learn more about the settlement here.
According to a press release, this settlement “furthers EPA’s national compliance initiative to reduce significant noncompliance and improve surface water quality by assuring dischargers comply with all National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements.” Click here for information about this initiative.
Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety Magazine.