Biosolids photo identifier

Event Recycling

Permit Fee Program Report (as required by RCW 70.95J.025(4))

Ecology's biosolids program is supported by permit fees. Facilities that work with domestic sewage and biosolids are required to pay an annual fee to support the state biosolids program. New facilities must pay a permit review fee.

Currently, about 380 facilities are part of the state biosolids permit system. They range from very small, private facilities to the largest municipalities, and include state and federally owned facilities.

Most facilities are publicly owned sewage treatment works. Other activities are land application or septage management. The state does not have jurisdiction over facilities or activities located on tribal lands unless they transport biosolids or sewage sludge into the state. Fees vary. All pay a base fee, with some facilities paying more than others. In general, the bigger the waste water treatment facility, and the larger the number of residences that contribute to the facility, the larger the fee.

The 1992 Legislature unanimously passed a bill requiring the state program (Chapter 70.97J RCW Municipal Sewage Sludge - Biosolids). The 1997 Legislature unanimously passed a bill allowing the permit fee program (WAC 173-308-320 Permit Fees).

The biosolids fee program was intended to support a core-level program at Ecology. A core-level program allows Ecology staff to implement basic elements of the program such as monitoring and evaluating operations, conducting inspections, and providing technical assistance.

The program and service are valuable to the public and regulated community because:
  • Compliance with regulatory standards protects public health and the environment.
  • Treatment plants, especially smaller facilities with fewer resources, benefit from assistance biosolids staff provide, to help them understand regulations and good management practices. Ecology's technical assistance helps treatment plants avoid costs of hiring consultants or making costly mistakes.
  • Ecology staff have considerable expertise in biosolids management and can provide technical assistance to stakeholders for managing other organic materials as well.
  • Other stakeholders, especially the public and local health departments, benefit from Ecology's technical expertise. Program staff frequently answer questions on the biosolids program and regulatory issues, make presentations, and provide information.
  • Compliance with regulations and use of good management practices improve public confidence in the safety of biosolids management.
  • Ecology's involvement at the national level helps shape federal program policies and direction.
  • Concerns about biosolids management regularly emerge. Ecology works with local and national biosolids experts to help address issues as they arise.
Current and Projected Revenues and Expenditures
Permit revenue will be used to fund staff to increase technical assistance, enforcement, and compliance inspections of permit applicants. This will help Ecology keep pace with increased customer demands and population growth, and protect public health and the environment by properly managing biosolids. As in the past, we will work with the regulated community on possible fee increases. They have been largely supportive of fee increases in the past.

  FY 14 FY 15 FY 16
FY 17
Fee Collection $936,009
(379 facilities)
(380 facilities)
(375 facilities)
(380 facilities)
Expenditures $750,832 $871,396 N/A N/A
Appropriations $1,068,000 $1,068,000 $1,054,000 $1,054,000
FTEs* 8.20 9.58 N/A N/A
* The number of FTEs listed includes both implementation and administrative staff.