Aerial view of West Point Treatment Plant.

EPA sends $206 million to Washington to protect Puget Sound

April 2, 2024

The U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency has allocated more than $200 million for projects that will improve wastewater facilities and protect Washington State’s Puget Sound, the second largest estuary in the U.S.

The agency will provide a $194 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to King County, Washington’s West Point Treatment Plant, which treats wastewater and stormwater from in and around Seattle.

The loan will finance the removal of the plant’s corroded pipes, upgrades to its raw sewage pumps and support structural upgrades to its administrative building to protect against earthquakes.

The West Point plant will be better prepared to handle spikes and daily flows of water into Puget Sound, which are expected to be more frequent and intense because of climate change, officials said.

The loan is part of a new master agreement under which the EPA will provide almost $500 million in low-interest funding for water infrastructure projects in the region.

WIFIA resources have twice been used by King County to improve stormwater treatment at Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station and to build an underground storage tunnel for the Ship Canal Water Quality Project.

“EPA’s WIFIA loans have a track record of success and nowhere is that clearer than here in King County, where two loans have already reduced the amounts of sewage and untreated stormwater entering local waterways,” said Bruno Pigott, EPA acting assistant administrator for water.

The EPA is also sending $12 million to the Washington departments of Ecology and Commerce and the Washington Stormwater Center to help reduce untreated stormwater runoff from entering Puget Sound. Excess stormwater runoff harms aquatic life such as salmon, freshwater streams and exacerbates nutrient pollution that can lead to harmful algal blooms. The funds are administered through the EPA’s Stormwater Strategic Initiative.

“This new funding will build upon EPA’s partnerships to address polluted road runoff that is impacting our salmon populations,” said EPA Regional Administrator Casey Sixkiller. “With our partners at the Stormwater Strategic Initiative, we aim to reduce toxins entering Puget Sound through road retrofit planning, stormwater parks, and finding and fixing toxic hotpots. These actions will benefit water quality, salmon populations, tribal treaty rights, and the health of Puget Sound.”

The EPA has invested $35 million to address toxic runoff water through the Stormwater Strategic Initiative in the region. Previously, the agency funded the Puget Sound Regional Council’s stormwater parks planning project, which is laying the groundwork for new stormwater parks across the Puget Sound region. Washington’s Kitsap and King counties, along with the city of Bellevue and Futurewise GreenLink Port Angeles are also each receiving a $100,000 EPA stormwater park planning grant.

Photo courtesy of King County

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