The Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force (SRRTTF) leads efforts to find and reduce toxic compounds in the Spokane River. A collaborative group of governmental agencies, private industries and environmental organizations have signed a Memorandum of Agreement that forms the Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force.
Participants on the task force include representatives from Spokane County, the City of Spokane, the Liberty Lake Sewer and Water District, Inland Empire Paper Co., Kaiser Aluminum, Spokane Regional Health District, Washington State Department of Health, the Spokane Riverkeeper (a program of the Center for Justice), the Lands Council, and the Lake Spokane Association. The Washington State Department of Ecology, US Environmental Protection Agency, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Spokane Tribe, Coeur d’Alene Tribe, and Avista have advisory roles.
The goal of the task force is to develop a comprehensive plan to bring the Spokane River into compliance with water quality standards for PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). These pollutants exceed water quality standards in several segments of the river. These segments are on a list, known as the 303d list, which identifies lakes, streams and parts of rivers that fail to meet Washington’s water quality standards.
For the municipal and industrial wastewater dischargers to the river, participation in the task force is a requirement in the water quality permits issued by Ecology in 2011. The Idaho facilities that discharge to the river are expected to receive permits from the EPA in 2012. Memorandum of Agreement can be amended to include the Idaho permit holders at that time.
Vision Statement of the SRRTTF
The Regional Toxics Task Force will work collaboratively to characterize the sources of toxics in the Spokane River and identify and implement appropriate actions needed to make measurable progress towards meeting applicable water quality standards for the State of Washington.
Actions of the SRRTTF
The SRRTTF will engage in technical studies, monitoring, education, and make recommendations for specific actions that will reduce toxics in the Spokane River. The Task Force will:
- Provide a forum for the review and discussion of Spokane River toxics issues
- Participate in public education and engagement to advance the understanding of Spokane River toxics issues
- Consider the results of past and future studies and implementation actions including those conducted by individual dischargers within their operations and/or service areas
- Consider the technical studies needed to understand the sources of toxics and advance region-wide understanding of toxics in the Spokane River
- Provide specific recommendations for the development of a Spokane River toxics reduction plan
Significant efforts, collaboration, and funding by many organizations will be required to identify and reduce the sources of toxics to the Spokane River. The Task Force will play a prominent role in this effort.