Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed dramatically increasing the fish consumption rate that drives clean water standards in the state.
Inslee said Wednesday he plans to set the fish consumption rate at 175 grams a day, which would protect people who eat about a serving a day of fish. Current water quality standards assume only one serving of fish per month, or 6.5 grams a day.
“So when we improve our health by reducing the toxins in the fish we eat and the water we swim in, it helps all Washingtonians, not just those that happen to eat more fish,” Inslee said.
A higher rate could mean tougher permitting rules for water pollution, and environmental and tribal groups have pushed for it.
But Inslee's plan would also increases by tenfold the excess cancer risk rate for certain chemicals, which those groups have opposed.
Business such as Boeing and others had worried that tougher pollution rules would hurt jobs and the economy.
Inslee's plan includes a package to the 2015 Legislature to address other toxic pollution, which he says will go beyond what’s required by the federal Clean Water Act.
The federal law requires states to ensure water is clean and safe from toxins that cause cancer and other problems, but the law is 40 years old. Inslee says it’s time to address today’s threats to clean water.
“The majority of toxic pollution comes from chemicals that are used to make so much of what we use today in our daily lives, including brakes in our cars, flame retardants in our furniture," Inslee said.
A final rule won't be finalized until the legislative session ends.