The 2007 Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 737, which required the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to consult with all interested parties to develop a list of priority persistent bioaccumulative toxics (Priority Persistent Pollutant List) that have a documented effect on human health, wildlife and aquatic life.
DEQ presented to the Legislature a list of 118 toxic pollutants that may be found in the State’s rivers and streams. Some of the substances on the list include: flame retardants, pesticides and herbicides, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, metals and industrial chemicals.
SB 737 required Oregon's 52 largest municipal wastewater treatment plants (the Eugene/Springfield regional facility is one of the 52) to develop toxics reduction plans by July 2011 to reduce persistent pollutants if detected in their effluent at levels above “initiation levels” set by DEQ. The wastewater facilities were required to sample for 117 of the 118 toxic pollutants to determine if any were present in concentrations greater than the initiation levels. Any pollutant identified as exceeding an initiation level requires the wastewater facility to develop a toxics reduction plan.
The effluent from the Eugene/Springfield regional wastewater treatment facility was sampled during summer and winter flows, one time each as required. The data from each sampling showed only two compounds above the initiation level: cholesterol and coprostanol.
Cholesterol and coprostanol, both naturally occurring byproducts of human (and animal) digestion, were present in all sampled wastewater treatment plant effluent. DEQ suspended reduction plan requirements for these pollutants because of limited information about toxicity and lack of feasible municipal pollution prevention activities or cost-effective treatment options.
In October, 2011 the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) adopted permanent changes to the Initiation Level Rule, suspending municipalities' requirement to develop reduction plans for cholesterol and coprostanol.
For more information on SB 737 please visit the DEQ website.