City cleans up past water problems

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NORTH BEND - When Sue Joerger's environmental group approaches cities about permit violations regarding pollutants being discharged in local waterways, the results are often mixed.

Some city officials drag their feet and others initially balk at the news, but eventually come around. Then there are some cities, such as North Bend, that "show an enthusiasm for protecting what it has" and working "quicker than most" to fix the problem, Joerger said.

"We worked cooperatively with the city of North Bend and are very excited about the result - cleaner water for the Snoqualmie River and Puget Sound," said Joerger, executive director of the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the waters of Puget Sound.

Joerger and her group approached the city in early 2002 regarding violations of its Department of Ecology permit at its wastewater treatment plant. The alliance found that the city had 78 violations over a 4-year period. Those violations, Joerger explained, were because traces of substances such as copper and mercury were discovered in water being pumped from the plant into the Snoqualmie River. While those levels weren't off the charts, she said, they were slightly higher than permitted and could be harmful to the habitat, including fish.

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