EPA settles with City of Wapato for wastewater treatment discharge violations


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached a settlement with the City of Wapato, Washington for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act at its city wastewater treatment facility. Wapato lies in central Washington’s Yakima County, within the external boundaries of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation Reservation and discharges to tribal waters.

EPA alleges that the city failed to comply with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit at the facility. The permit covers discharges of pollutants into a drainage way within the Wapato Irrigation Project, which drains into Wanity Slough, and empties into the Yakima River before flowing to the Columbia River at Richland, Washington. Wanity Slough is home to salmon and trout and the Yakima River is widely used for ceremonies, recreation, and agriculture.

Alleged violations include:

● 3,000 effluent limit violations for exceedances of ammonia, copper, and zinc.
● Failure to update the facility’s Quality Assurance Plan.
● Failure to update the facility’s Operations and Maintenance Plan.

As part of the settlement, the City agreed to pay a penalty of $25,750 and entered into an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC), which requires the City to take specific actions to prevent the continued discharge of pollutants in excess of its permit limits. Zinc, which is particularly harmful to fish, accounts for most of the plant’s violations. The City applied for water quality funding from the Washington State Department of Ecology and under the terms of this agreement, the plant will use that funding to develop a process to remove zinc from its discharge.

This settlement furthers EPA’s national compliance initiative to reduce significant noncompliance and improve surface water quality by assuring dischargers comply with all National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency