Department of Ecology News Release - March 8, 2019

Incentives for innovation included in proposed updates to permit fees

Proposed updates to stormwater, wastewater fees now available for comment

Columbia Pulp mill buildings

The Columbia Pulp straw pulp mill is an example of a facility that could possibly qualify for reduced permit fees based on their pollution reduction practices.

Olympia – With nearly 6,000 local governments and businesses across the state having water quality permits, the Washington Department of Ecology is looking to encourage innovative approaches to pollution reduction. Ecology is proposing to offer facilities a three-year, 75 percent reduction in permit fees for engaging in market research and development of products or processes that reduce pollution.
 
“Our state is filled with innovators and we want to encourage a holistic environmental approach to operations,” said Heather Bartlett, Water Quality Program Manager. “This would allow us to financially incentivize our permittees to take action beyond water quality. The environmental benefits could be related to improving our land, air, or water.”
 
Ecology’s water quality permitting program protects state waters by managing when, where, and how stormwater and treated wastewater enters the environment. State law requires Ecology to use permit fees to cover the costs of implementing these important programs. The fees can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands, depending on the type of activity the permit covers. Permit holders receive technical assistance from the state when pollution problems occur.
 
To adjust for inflation, Ecology is proposing an increase in the annual stormwater and wastewater discharge permit fees. This update also includes the proposed fees for the winery general permit fee category, a new general permit that goes into effect on July 1, 2019.

Ecology is accepting public comments through April 30, 2019

The public is invited to participate in a public hearing at 10 a.m. on April 23 at Ecology Headquarters. Attendees can participate in person or online.

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Colleen Keltz
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