Anyone interested in commenting by phone or listening to the workshop can email DEC.WQ.Cruise@alaska.gov for more information.
As earlier reported, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commercial Passenger Vessel Environmental Compliance Program is proposing to issue a wastewater general permit that will satisfy the regulatory provisions of an statute amended in 2013 by House Bill 80.
HB 80 allowed DEC to extend the 2010 Cruise Ship Wastewater General Permit, which requires ships to meet stringent effluent limits for discharged wastewater. It also authorized cruise ships to apply for mixing zones for upcoming permits, an option other marine dischargers already have.
According to DEC, mixing zones ensure water quality will remain protected at a very high level, while still meeting a protective and achievable standard.
A ballot measure passed in 2006 required that water quality criteria be met at the point of discharge from large cruise ships, which was more stringent than for any other discharger to the marine environment in the state. The quality of the treated effluent had to meet these high standards in the pipe, within the ship, before it is discharged into the ocean—but only for discharges from cruise ships, and not from any other dischargers.
Cruise ships have been able to meet this stringent requirement for all but four parameters: ammonia and dissolved copper, nickel and zinc. For all other dischargers in the state, a rigorous permitting process determines what levels must be met at the point of discharge. HB 80 removes the ballot measure requirement that applied to cruise ships and not other marine dischargers.
The proposed general permit will apply to the discharge of wastewater such as treated sewage, treated graywater and other treated wastewater discharges from large commercial passenger vessels operating in state waters.
The public comment period closes May 23.