Photo Credit: APTowering cruise ships, sometimes four at a time, sit at port in Juneau at the peak of summer, delivering tourists important to the economy of this and other southeast Alaska communities. But some conservationists worry about what the ships could be leaving in Alaska waters and are fighting proposed new rules for the discharge of treated wastewater . . .
Over the years, Alaska has rolled back provisions of a 2006 citizen initiative that called for cruise ship wastewater to meet water quality standards at the point of discharge. In 2013, for example, the Legislature struck that discharge requirement, saying instead that wastewater cannot be discharged in a way that violates applicable state or federal law.
The 2013 law allowed for mixing zones, where wastewater can be diluted into the water, if ships meet certain standards for treatment of discharge. The change followed a debated preliminary report from a science advisory panel that found none of the advanced wastewater treatment systems on ships operating in Alaska waters could consistently meet water quality standards at the point of discharge for four “constituents of concern:” ammonia, copper, nickel and zinc.
The proposed general permit, under which ships can apply to be covered, are based on that law. (Read more about the concerns from the Alaska conservationists HERE)