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Environmental Lawsuit Forces Changes to Sand and Gravel Permitting

Another reason why sometimes lawsuits actually work to change behavior for the better. This lawsuit has forced a change on 950 businesses that sometimes dump polluted water into streams, lakes and the Sound. While I have been critical of Puget Soundkeepers Alliance in the past, due to their heavy handed approach to the copper pollution problem of boatyards, this seems to have been a worthwhile approach.

Political action and sometimes lawsuits, is important in this time where so many environmental groups are simply focusing on restoration projects, because the money is there. We can restore all we want, but if the people who want to destroy the environment (either purposely or not) are allowed to continue bad behavior, then the efforts will ultimately fail.

Department of Ecology modifies state’s sand & gravel permit

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has modified the state’s Sand and Gravel General Permit.

The permit is part of Washington’s responsibilities in administering the Clean Water Act.

The changes, while relatively minor, represent increased environmental protections. For example, the new permit reduces the level of turbidity and solids that facilities may discharge into Washington’s waters, and it requires portable operations to provide public notice prior to their activities.

The action settles an appeal of the permit by the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance (PSA). The Washington Aggregates and Concrete Association intervened in the appeal, supporting Ecology’s original permit.

The state’s sand and gravel permit regulates water discharges from sand and gravel operations, rock quarries, and similar mining operations. The permit also covers concrete batch operations and hot mix asphalt operations, and sites that stockpile mined materials.

Untreated discharge water from sand and gravel operations can harm fish, aquatic life and water quality.

Ecology held a public comment period and convened a public hearing and workshop on the permit modification.

The permit covers about 950 facilities in Washington. The changes go into effect Oct. 1, 2011. The new permit and public comments about the changes are posted online here.

If you have questions about the permit, contact Ecology’s Gary Bailey at 360-407-6433 or email .

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