Spokane's newest state Representative from the Third District, Andy Billig, isn't wasting any time throwing proposed legislation into the mix in Olympia. At the 3-minute mark of this "Meet the New Legislator" video, he discusses a bill to help clean the Spokane River.
Billig, a Democrat, is the main House sponsor of a bill that would ban the sale of phosphorus lawn fertilizers. The bill, HB1271, is seen as a low-impact, low-cost way to reduce phosphorus levels in the Spokane River, especially in the Long Lake area plagued by toxic algae blooms.
Municipal and industrial wastewater dischargers — mainly city sewage treatment plants in Spokane and Kootenai counties, plus the Inland Empire paper mill — are facing hundreds of millions of dollars in treatment upgrades to reduce phosphorus discharges to minute quantities under the federal Clean Water Act. The lawn fertilizer ban is seen as a way to help them meet the stringent new discharge limits.
Fertilizers such as phosphorus encourage aquatic plant growth. When the plants die, the river loses oxygen and becomes deadly for aquatic life. The Long Lake area was plagued by a massive and stinky fish die-off last summer.