Inslee proposes higher fish consumption rate to toughen clean water rules


by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News and Associated Press

Posted on July 9, 2014 at 4:58 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 9 at 6:04 PM

SEATTLE - Gov. Jay Inslee wants to toughen the state’s clean water rules by increasing the estimate of how much fish Washington state residents eat.

After months of deliberations and pressure from all sides, Inslee said he will set the fish-consumption rate at 175 grams a day, among the highest in the nation.

“It is a reasonable, significant improvement in human health in the State of Washington,” said Inslee.

But his proposal raised questions from state Senator Rodney Tom, D-Medina.

“How does it affect business? How does it affect consumers as far as water and sewer rates?” asked Tom.

Inslee said he did not think any changes would result in increased water or sewer bills and said cleaner water could save on health care costs.

How much fish people eat is part of a complicated formula that determines how clean waters should be. A higher rate theoretically would mean fewer toxic chemicals would be allowed in waters and tougher permitting rules for facilities that discharge pollutants into state waters.

Business such as Boeing and others had worried too-stringent rules would hurt jobs and economic growth because costly technologies would be required to keep certain levels of toxic chemicals out of state waters.

The owner of the Olympia Seafood Company, Kira DaRito, said new water quality standards would actually help her Olympia business.

“Cleaner water would mean less worry about how often you can eat seafood,” said DaRito.