The Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) has proposed a rule amendment to the Water Quality Permit Fees. Water quality permit programs manage when, where, and how water enters the environment. Under Washington law, Ecology is required to use the permit fees to cover program implementation costs. Individuals who have a wastewater or stormwater discharge permit are required to pay a permit fee. The type of activity dictates the fee amount. Some examples of the industries subject to the permit fee include: aquatic pest control, combined industrial waste treatment, concentrated animal feeding operations, or pulp, paper and paper board operations. The entire fee schedule can be found here.

Industries that operate within multiple fee categories are charged depending on the category with the highest fee. The collected fees fund the Water Quality Wastewater and Stormwater Discharge Permit programs. To illustrate, some of the collected fees are used to fund inspections, monitoring and evaluating compliance with permits, or reviewing plans and documents directly related to pretreatment programs.

The proposed rule is intended to account for inflation and will allow Ecology to recover expenses in operating and managing the water quality permit programs. Additionally, the proposed rule includes a proposed fee for the winery general permit, a new permit that will take effect in July 2019. Finally, as part of the proposed rule amendment, Ecology is proposing a 75 percent reduction in permit fees for facilities that engage in market research and development of processes that reduce pollution.