The bottom line is phosphates act as a fertilizer and allow algae to grow - limiting the oxygen supply to fish. Although treatment plants and private septic systems help eliminate phosphates, it's not 100 percent.
It seems Spokane and Whatcom counties have had this in effect since 2008, but the Eco-formulas lacked luster and folks were crossing the boarder into Idaho to get phosphate-laden soap. Who knew you would be considered an outlaw for smuggling dish washing soap?
But, the good news is there are better formulas in 2010 than there were even two years ago. Now, that's progress. And we all really do have to do our part. Here's some helpful ideas on which brands to consider when you change-over.
Here's a review for Method Smarty Dish Tabs which seems to be the best product out there and easily available. I heard it's cheaper at Bartell's or Lowe's. http://housekeeping.about.com/od/productreviews/gr/methodsmartydish.htm
Also, you can order in bulk from Eco-friendly Cal Ben - an online soap store. To order go to http://www.calbenpuresoap.com/
Lastly, Consumer Report tested three types of phosphate free detergents and wrote their finding on their website at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/october-2009/home-garden/detergents/overview/detergents-ov.htm
Other states also implementing the ban are Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Check out the full article: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/6420ap_wa_dishwasher_soap.html