The biosolids general permit
Under the biosolids rule, we issue one permit for the whole state, known as a "general permit." Individual applicants receive coverage under this general permit. The most recent general permit was issued in 2015 and expires in 2020.
Permit requirements are spelled out in the biosolids rule.
Who must apply for coverage under the general permit
- Wastewater treatment plants
- Any person or facility that land applies biosolids
- Any other facility or person involved with biosolids that we determine needs a permit to protect human health and the environment.
Steps in the permitting process
- Contact our regional coordinator for the area where you plan to produce or use biosolids.
- Fill out and sign the Application for Coverage.
- Fill out any other required plans:
- General Land Application Plan
- Site Specific Land Application Plan (including all required maps)
- Sampling plan
- Spill Prevention Plan
- Submit the application and all additional plans to us for our review.
- Make any revisions / additions required by our staff and resubmit the documents. We have yet to have someone turn in perfect documents the first time, so expect revisions.
- AFTER all permit documents have been reviewed and revised you must fill out a SEPA checklist.
- Submit the draft SEPA checklist to us for our review.
- Submit the SEPA checklist to any jurisdiction (other than Ecology) that may be the SEPA Lead.
- Conduct public notice.
- Ecology review of all comments received during the public notice period.
- Revisions from public comments incorporated into the final permit package.
- Issuance of final coverage by Ecology.
Step 1: Contact your regional biosolids coordinator
Contact your regional biosolids coordinator (under contacts, below) to discuss your specific needs. We’ll explain the process and answer any questions you may have. We will ensure you get all the necessary forms to complete the process.
This is the basic permit application form we use for everyone receiving permit coverage. It must be signed by the appropriate person before it is complete.
Step 3: Fill out any other required plans
Land application activities will require comprehensive land application plans. Most applicants will also be required to provide a biosolids sampling plan and a spill prevention plan. We have created templates for these plans to help applicants with the process.
When using our templates, they need to be completed in their entirety. Don’t just leave sections blank. There may be some sections that are not applicable to your specific operation. If you believe that’s the case, then provide a clear explanation as to why that section is unnecessary.
Step 4: Submit the application and plans for our review
When you have an initial draft of the application and all plans, send them to us electronically for review. DO NOT send hard copy drafts. Please send editable Word documents only. We need to be able to make corrections and comments on your initial drafts.
Step 5: Make revisions / additions and resubmit the documents
We will be in contact with you about your draft documents. We’ll provide written comments and may request additional information. Please read comments and make appropriate changes before resubmitting the documents.
Step 6: Fill out a SEPA checklist
In order to accurately and completely fill out a SEPA checklist, it is necessary to have reasonably accurate draft plans in hand. The SEPA checklist asks a number of questions that one cannot answer if the plans have not been created. We will help you fill out the SEPA checklist if you have problems or questions - contact your regional coordinator.
Step 7: Submit the draft SEPA checklist for our review
The lead SEPA agency may either be Ecology or a local government. Even if we are not your lead SEPA agency, we would like to review your SEPA checklist to ensure that the biosolids activities you are seeking to permit are completely and accurately described in the checklist.
Step 8: Submit the SEPA checklist to the lead agency
Once we have reviewed your application and supporting plans, along with the SEPA checklist, you are ready to provide the lead agency with a complete draft package. You’ll need to answer any questions they have and make any necessary changes. We typically work closely with local jurisdictions in such circumstances.
Step 9: Public notice
Both the state biosolids rule and SEPA have specific public notice requirements. You must meet both before we can issue permit coverage. You need to work with your regional coordinator on this aspect of your permit application.
Step 10: Ecology review of comments received during public notice
The purpose of public notice is to give the general public an opportunity to comment. They may have questions or concerns about your permit application. After the comment period is over, we review any input we receive.
Step 11: Revisions from public comments
We often learn things during the comment period we didn’t know beforehand. If these concerns are important, we will need to address them and possibly make changes to the permit package. These changes must be made before we issue permit coverage.
Step 12: Issuance of final coverage by Ecology
The final step. Draft plans have gone through the review and revision process, the public comment periods are over, and we have made any necessary plan revisions based on public comments. We will then finalize the permit package and may then issue final coverage under the General Permit. Permittees will be required to follow conditions of the state biosolids rule, the general permit, and all conditions set forth in their plans.
Public information on biosolids permit applications