Washington Department of Ecology manages the state’s water supply and protects water quality. Washington State Department of Health’s Office of Drinking Water’s mission is to “protect the health of the people of Washington by ensuring safe and reliable drinking water.” 85% of the population accesses drinking water through public water systems. About 725,000 Washingtonians use private wells, which are regulated by local health jurisdictions. Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) regulates private water companies operating in the state that have 100 or more connections or if the utility charges more than $557/year/customer.
Washington Senior and Low-Income Utility Rate Discounts allows local governments in Washington to provide utility discounts for low-income or disabled customers. “Any county, city, town, public utility district or other municipal corporation, or quasi municipal corporation providing utility services may provide such services at reduced rates for low-income senior citizens or other low-income citizens.”
Prohibited the discharge or use of class B firefighting foam, beginning July 2018, and prohibited the manufacturing or sale of PFAS-based firefighting foams, beginning July 2020. One drawback of the language is that it does allow class B 20 firefighting foam “where the inclusion of PFAS chemicals are required by federal law.” Firefighting personal protective equipment that contains PFAS chemicals must be sold with a written notice informing the purchaser of the presence of PFAS. “A manufacturer of class B firefighting foam in violation… of this act is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed five thousand dollars for each violation in the case of a first offense. Manufacturers, local governments, or persons that are repeat violators are subject to a civil penalty not to exceed ten thousand dollars for each repeat offense. Penalties collected… must be deposited in the state toxics control account.”
In 2018 SB 5135 was passed (Pollution Prevention for Healthy People and Puget Sound Act), regulating classes of high priority toxic chemicals in products. The Department of Ecology, in consultation with the Department of Health, will designate at least five priority chemicals and report their designations to committees of the legislature. Criteria for priority chemicals include, among others, chemicals that are a high concern for children, chemicals that are persistent/bioaccumulate, are present in consumer products, or degrades into more hazardous traits. “Every five years, and consistent with the timeline established…the department, in consultation with the department of health, must determine regulatory actions to increase transparency and to reduce the use of priority chemicals in priority consumer products.”
Priority chemicals identified in the law include:
- Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
- Organohalogen flame retardants and flame retardants identified in RCW 70.240.010
- Phenolic compounds
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
Implementation of the law is through a program called Safer Products for Washington.