City passes sewer pretreatment ordinance

The North Bend City Council on Jan. 17 approved an ordinance adopting sewage pretreatment regulations.

The ordinance has been in development since 2003, said Ron Garrow, the city's public works director. The ordinance stems from an agreement with Puget Soundkeepers Alliance after North Bend was threatened with a lawsuit because of violations to the Clean Water Act in relation to the discharge of waste water from the city's wastewater treatment plant.

According to Garrow, the ordinance "provides for a system of record keeping and reporting by various sewage generators in the city's service area, sets more defined pretreatment standards in concert with the city's wastewater treatment plant discharge limitations, allows for issuing fines for noncompliance and provides for appeals by dischargers.

"We do need to upgrade the regulations," Garrow said. "This provides for more clarity."

In early 2002, the Puget Soundkeepers Alliance approached the city regarding violations of its Department of Ecology permit at the wastewater treatment plant. The alliance found that the city had 78 violations over a four-year period. Those violations, according to a February 2003 article in the Valley Record, were because traces of substances such as copper and mercury were discovered in water being pumped from the plant into the Snoqualmie River. Those levels weren't off the charts, but were slightly higher than permitted and could have been harmful to the habitat, according to Sue Joerger, executive director of the Puget Soundkeepers Alliance.

Joerger said in 2003 that North Bend was "working quicker than most" to fix the problem.

"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," she said at the time.

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