Grants Database

Western Environmental Law Center
Amount Awarded:
Project Title:
Legal Advocacy to Protect Puget Sound
Puget Sound Stewardship and Mitigation Fund, 2020
Water Resources/Watershed Protection ; Environmental Health & Justice ; Habitat/Wilderness/Preservation
South Sound ; Central Sound ; North Sound ; Salish Sea; ; Our advocacy is broad and implicates the entire Puget Sound ecosystem. That said, our work will specifically protect Elliott Bay, the Duwamish River Watershed, Commencement Bay, Budd Inlet, and the waters of South Sound.
Project Description:

The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is engaged in a legal advocacy campaign to protect the waters of Puget Sound. In this campaign, WELC’s legal team will work with our clients and partners including, most notably, Northwest Environmental Advocates and Earthrise Law Center. WELC will not be partnering with, working with, communicating with, or coordinating with Puget Soundkeeper on this project. Puget Soundkeeper will not be a WELC client for this project.

Specifically, WELC is fighting to protect the Sound’s waters via two complimentary efforts.

First, All Known, Available, and Reasonable Treatment (AKART) is the concept that all known and reasonable methods of pollution treatment must be used to control pollution. Currently, the Washington Department of Ecology is in violation of AKART and the agency routinely issues National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits that require only the use of secondary sewage treatment. This process fails to reduce the amounts of nutrients and toxics discharged to Puget Sound. Over the last 35 years, tertiary treatment, which can remove nutrients and toxics, has become increasingly known, available, and economically feasible. The goal of our legal advocacy is to force the Washington Department of Ecology to comply with AKART and the Clean Water Act to protect the Sound from improperly treated wastewater.

Second, WELC is engaged in litigation challenging the Environmental Protections Agency’s approval of Washington’s 2012 Clean Water Act section 303(d) List and water pollution cleanup priority schedule, and failure to develop total maximum daily load (TMDLs) rules for impaired waters. In addition, we have sued EPA for failing to develop the necessary TMDLs, as the law requires. We filed our lawsuit with the District Court of the Western District of Washington. The goal of our advocacy is to force the EPA and Ecology to comply with the 303(d) rules, which will inherently lead to a cleaner, healthier Puget Sound.