Washington State University monitors waste water to ensure unnecessary materials, which could negatively impact the Pullman Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW),are not discharged into the sanitary system via floor drains, sink drains, or toilet.
WSU has a municipal waste water discharge permit. This permit establishes parameters limiting the amount of contaminants that can be legally discharged. Environmental Health and Safety and Facilities Services work together to train personnel and monitor system to ensure parameters are met and system is operating properly. Certain process are monitored more closely because of the potential to exceed the permit parameters. If parameters can not be met under current conditions departments work together to find pollution control equipment or identify potential products which can be substituted to a more environmental friendly product.
Pullman’s POTW discharges treated effluent into the South Fork Palouse River. In order for this to happen without causing environmental damage the POTW must effectively work. The treatment system relies on microorganisms to breakdown waste materials. When materials are discharged at levels beyond the microorganisms capacity or are materials that can not be broken down the system is negatively impacted potentially killing or damaging these microorganisms. This damaged system is less effective at removing contaminants results in the potential contamination of the South Fork Palouse River. Many communities, downstream, rely on this water for social and economic activities, and contamination can reduce the ability for the water to be used.
Although large businesses must follow regulatory requirements established by federal, state, and local governments, individuals at their residents have no restrictions on what they can put down the drain. With this in mind, there are several things individuals should be aware of to help with the health of the environment.
- Avoid dumping any potentially hazardous materials down any drains or sewage systems, including pharmaceutical materials. These materials can be turned in at household collection points at local waste transfer stations.
- Maintain home sewage system function by keeping pipes clear of clogging. If there is a problem take care of it immediately.
- While working control hazardous materials discharges such as oil, gas, and pesticides.