The U.S. EPA is proposing limits on the amount of bacteria and other microorganisms that the wastewater treatment plant of Haines, Alaska would be allowed to release to Portage Cove.
Currently, the discharges from the Haines facility are not disinfected, contain high levels of fecal coliform and enterococcus bacteria, and rely upon a large “mixing zone” area to meet Alaska’s water quality standards for bacteria.
EPA, in coordination with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), is proposing a draft permit for the Haines facility that contains more stringent bacteria limits.
ADEC has indicated that these limits will be a condition of its certification of the permit under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. The proposed limits will require upgrades to the existing plant. The draft permit proposes to allow the plant five years to comply with the new limits.
Over the next several months EPA intends to propose new Clean Water Act permits for Ketchikan, Petersburg, Sitka, and Skagway that would also require their treatment plants to significantly reduce releases of bacteria to local waters within five years. A draft permit for Wrangell was released for public comment in October 2022 and a revised draft permit will be released for public comment in the coming months.