With cruise-ship visits constantly growing in Seattle, King County is making the right commitment to help with discussions on the treatment of sewage sludge from the industry.
The County Council last week promised to provide technical support as the industry, the Port of Seattle and the state Department of Ecology examine possible improvements. The council action followed an encouraging study about the possible benefits of county treatment for sewage sludge left over from the ships' treatment processes.
If the industry were to bring the sludge ashore, the King County Wastewater Division could use the treated matter for a long-standing fertilizer program. The report also found ships' wastewater systems are doing a good job.
Industry representatives have not sounded enthusiastic about the sludge removal option as an alternative to dumping the materials 12 miles at sea. Still, despite the prospect of added costs, they are willing to talk, Councilman Larry Phillips said, and that's "a good beginning." Unlike several states, Washington has chosen a voluntary approach, but that choice presumes continued collaboration.
As Phillips recently said, the region, like the industry, is trying to showcase the environment. The shared goal should be what the county wants: the highest-quality environmental protections. That includes seizing as many opportunities to recycle as possible.