Government Affairs

Gov. Inslee Proposes New Water Quality Standards For Washington

On July 9, Governor Jay Inslee unveiled a proposal to update water quality standards for Washington state.  The proposal is the latest step in the state’s process to update its clean water rules.  Washington has faced pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen its standards in recent years and if the state does not act in the near future, the EPA could step in to impose its own federal standards on the state.

Washington’s current standards have been in place since 1992.  At the core of those standards is an assumed rate that residents eat 6.5 grams of fish on a daily bases (approximately one serving per month).  Under the governor’s proposal, this consumption rate would be raised to 175 grams of fish daily (approximately one serving of fish per day). 
The proposal would also set Washington’s cancer risk rate at 10-5.  This means that if a Washingtonian ate 175 grams of fish from the state’s waters every day for 70 years, they would have a 1 in 100,000 chance of getting cancer.  Governor Inslee noted that for 70% of all regulated chemicals, his proposal would be “more protective” than current standards.  For the remaining 30% of chemicals, standards would be “as protective” as current regulations.

The proposal would also give permitted discharges flexibility by allowing variances.  These would be negotiated and allow discharges that are too polluted as long as the permit holders are making progress towards reducing pollution and meeting new standards.  Any variances would be determined individually and would be subject to approval by the EPA.

Lastly, the governor called on legislators to pass a bill package when they return to Olympia in 2015 that would give the Department of Ecology powers to ban the use of certain toxic chemical that pollute waterways in an effort to “attack pollution at its source.”  He also requested that the department issue its preliminary draft of this rule by September 30, 2014.

In response to this proposal, AWB President Kris Johnson said that it is still too early to say exactly how Governor Inslee proposal would impact Washington employers, but AWB is hopeful it will lead to a solution that protects the public’s health and the economic vitality of the state. 

"Governor's Official Press Release" -

2014 Clean Water Policy Brief

Government Affairs
The role of the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Department is to serve as a voice for member businesses by monitoring, drafting and advocating for legislative issues and concerns to all levels of government.

Our Government Affairs Committee meets once a month to discuss policy positions on local, state and federal issues and makes recommendations to the Chamber’s Board of Directors after the appropriate input from members and other stakeholders. Over the course of the last year, the Government Affairs Committee has:

•    Identified and lobbied for key legislative issues for the chamber during the 2013 State Legislative session.

•    Cooperated with Chambers from across Washington through the Large Chamber Coalition (LCC) to speak with one voice on issues important to Washington businesses.

•    Developed and advocated for Chamber positions on Transportation, Education and Renewable Energy.

•    Recommended support of Senate Bill 5648; narrowing the requirement for utilities to purchase eligible renewable energy resources or renewable energy credits when not needed to serve customers loads.

Contact the Regional Chamber at 509.736.0510 or for more information.

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You may request the Tri-City Regional Chamber to get involved in an issue that will have an effect on business in the Greater Tri-Cities Region. Please email