Water quality refers to the concentration of different constituents found in water, such as oxygen, sediments, nutrients, organisms, toxins, organic matter, and the like
Stormwater is the #1 source of pollution in the Spokane River.
The nature of water pollutants has changed in recent decades, but regulators have not kept pace, and the public and the environment are vulnerable to new kinds of contamination.
In contrast to the obvious “point-source” pollutants of last century – the classic industrial pipe spewing brown filth into pristine waterways such as the [Spokane River] - the greatest source of water pollution today is the more diffuse “non point-source” pollution known as stormwater runoff. This term describes pollutants of many kinds, from many sources – motor oil, paint, sewage, fertilizers, insecticides, pharmaceuticals, and other contaminants – that are washed off the land by rain, snow or mist and into water supplies.
To accomplish our goal of reducing polluted stormwater from entering the Spokane River, we place a focus on the two main types of non-point source pollution – industrial stormwater and illicit dischargers, i.e. citizens washing their cars on the street, dumping oil in the drains, etc.
We take a two-tiered approach to reach this goal.
First we make sure the Clean Water Act is upheld and that polluters are meeting the goal of the CWA by eliminating discharge to the Spokane River, and when appropriate are doing everything necessary to first get under an Industrial Stormwater Permit or Construction Stormwater Permit and subsequently adhering to the conditions of said permit.
Second we make sure ample effort is put in to education and outreach to the business community and citizens at large to make sure they know how actions they take at their business and at their homes effect the health of the Spokane River and the community. We do, when appropriate, collaborate with state agencies, municipalities, other environmental groups and/or neighborhoods to develop or enhance programs that aim to educate on the importance of clean water and stormwater management.
Here’s more on the types of water pollution
As authorized by the Clean Water Act, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches. Industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters.
Non-Point Source Pollution
Non-point source pollution generally results from land runoff, precipitation, atmospheric deposition, drainage, seepage or hydrologic modification. The term “nonpoint source” is defined to mean any source of water pollution that does not meet the legal definition of “point source” in section 502(14) of the Clean Water Act.
The term “point source” means any discernible, confined and discrete conveyance, including but not limited to any pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, container, rolling stock, concentrated animal feeding operation, or vessel or other floating craft, from which pollutants are or may be discharged. This term does not include agricultural storm water discharges and return flows from irrigated agriculture.
Unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, nonpoint source (NPS) pollution comes from many diffuse sources. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and ground waters.
We are involved in a major non-point source pollution legal issue in a state Supreme Court case involving a rancher in Washington and the Department of Ecology’s authority to regulate non-point source pollution and protect our state’s water resources. Read more about the Lemire case on THIS PAGE.
Under the category of non-point source pollution is:
Defined as any discharge to the municipal separate storm sewer system that is not composed entirely of storm water, except for discharges allowed under a NPDES permit or waters used for firefighting operations. Examples include; sanitary wastewater, effluent from septic tanks, car wash wastewaters, improper oil disposal, radiator flushing disposal, laundry wastewaters, spills from roadway accidents, improper disposal of auto and household toxics.