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Phosphate Ban Clears Major Hurdle

 "We can have clean dishes and healthy fishes"

OLYMPIA – Yesterday the state House of Representatives took a key step forward in cleaning up rivers and lakes around Washington state. The House passed HB 2322 that will eliminate phosphates in automatic dishwashing detergents to 0.5 percent or less.

“It’s a great day for the Spokane River,” said Rachael Paschal Osborn, a public interest water lawyer who heads the Sierra Club’s Spokane River Project. “Phosphorus is the culprit for dissolved oxygen. Dish soap phosphates are one of the sources that can and should be controlled.”

HB 2322 was sponsored by Timm Ormsby D-Spokane and received bipartisan support from lawmakers around the state, including significant help from John Serben R-Spokane. At a January 27th hearing, Spokane County Commission Todd Mielke and Tom Agnew, chair of Liberty Lake Sewer & Water District both testified in favor of the bill. Spokane-based Avista corporation also assisted in lobbying for the bill.

Dave Peeler, head of the Department of Ecology’s water quality program, testified that 260 water bodies around the state are polluted because of phosphorus.Just before the vote yesterday, Timm Ormsby spoke on the floor of the House and asked for statewide support for the measure, noting that “we can have clean dishes and healthy fishes.”

The House passed HB 2322 with a vote of 78-19. "This is a simple, easy way to make a dent in solving the algae problems," said Craig Engelking, the Sierra Club’s legislative lobbyist in Olympia.

Consumer Reports in its March 2005 publication concluded that phosphate-free products work as well regular brands, noting it is the enzymes and not phosphates that get dishes clean.

For additional information

  • Rachael Paschal Osborn 509.328-1087 509.954-5641
  • Craig Engelking 360.561-7701