Grants Database

Northwest Environmental Advocates
Amount Awarded:
Project Title:
Data Support for Litigation Seeking Regulation of Discharges of Emerging Contaminants to Puget Sound
Orca Fund, 2022
South Puget Sound
Pierce County
Project Description:

The purpose of this project is to obtain regulatory limits on otherwise completely unregulated toxic pollutants that have been demonstrated to cause significant harm to Chinook salmon—the primary prey of the Southern Resident killer whales—and are cause for concern for orcas themselves. These pollutants are the so-called contaminants of emerging concern (“CEC”)—including pharmaceuticals and personal care products (“PPCP”) and industrial chemicals. Scientists have established that approximately 97,000 pounds of CECs are discharged annually to Puget Sound by roughly 100 sewage treatment plants and that these CECs are harming Chinook salmon. The scope of the project, insofar as the support being sought from the Orca Fund, is narrow: to supplement the data on CECs present in effluent discharged from the City of Tacoma’s Central sewage treatment plant to the Puyallup River Estuary/Commencement Bay of Puget Sound, previously studied in 2014–2018. The project as a whole is to use both these new and the original data in a Clean Water Act enforcement action against Tacoma. To our knowledge, this case would be the first in the country seeking to regulate CECs.