On May 9, 2016, the Delaware River Basin Commission (“DRBC”) proposed to overhaul its project review fee structure. The proposal would replace project review fees for certain wastewater discharge and withdrawal projects with a new annual monitoring and coordination fee. According to the DRBC, the changes to the fee structure are necessary to provide a stable and sustainable source of funding to implement project review activities. DRBC’s proposed changes to the project review fee structure include the following:
- Annual Monitoring and Coordination Fee – For all withdrawal and wastewater discharge projects subject to DRBC review and approval (including projects that receive permits through the One Process/One Permit program), DRBC is proposing to assess an annual fee ranging from $300 to $1,000 per year depending on the permitted discharge capacity or monthly water allocation. DRBC has not previously assessed an annual fee on withdrawal and wastewater discharge projects.
- Wastewater Discharge Project Review Fees – DRBC is proposing to eliminate the project review fees for wastewater discharge projects that are subject to coordinated review under the One Process/One Permit Program. The revenue collected through the annual monitoring and coordination fee will be used to cover DRBC’s costs to review wastewater discharge projects.
- Water Withdrawal Project Review Fees – In cases where DRBC is the lead agency reviewing a water withdrawal project, DRBC is proposing to charge a fee based on the monthly water allocation requested: $400 per million gallons per month of allocation requested (capped at $15,000). For standard renewals of water withdrawal projects subject to coordinated review under the One Process/One Permit program, DRBC is proposing to eliminate the project review fee.
- Annual Inflation Adjustment – Beginning July 1, 2017, DRBC is proposing to automatically adjust all project review fees and water supply charges for inflation on an annual basis. DRBC has not previously adjusted fees for inflation.
- Alternative Review Fee – For existing or proposed projects that are expected to require extraordinary review time or expense, DRBC’s Executive Director will continue to have the discretion to impose an Alternative Review Fee that is equal to DRBC’s actual costs.
DRBC will be hosting an informational hearing for the public on June 15, 2016 in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. DRBC will be holding a public hearing on the fee proposal at its office in Trenton, New Jersey on July 27, 2016. Written comments on the proposal will be accepted until August 12, 2016.