Permitting ProcessThe state biosolids program is implemented in two fundamental ways. The first is by the rules in Chapter 173-308 WAC. All applicable facilities and persons are obligated to comply with those rules, and the rules are directly enforceable. This means that no permit or formal action beyond the presence of the rule itself is necessary to require compliance with the rules. This is also true of the federal program implemented under the federal Clean Water Act and the rules in 40 CFR Part 503.
Like the federal program, however, the state program also includes a system of permitting. Ecology has issued a statewide general permit. The state issued the General Permit for Biosolids Management in much the same fashion as it did the rules, and it parallels the rules very closely, with only a few departures. It is important to understand that this permit has already been issued.
Rather than applying for a permit, facilities that are subject to the permit program apply for coverage under the existing general permit.
The process begins with the submittal of a full permit application. This submittal addresses all aspects of biosolids management proposed by a facility. This includes review under the State Environmental Policy Act, public notice, and potentially public hearings or meetings. Existing facilities are required to submit their permit application within 90 days following the issuance of a new general permit. New facilities are required to submit their permit application at least 180 days prior to engaging in applicable management activities. New facilities are defined as those who come under the permitting program after July 1, 2007. New facilities are also required to pay a “new facility review fee” prior to being placed in the queue for permit application review. For help with the permit process, click here (Permit Key).
Timely submittal of all requirements documents and meeting public notice and other obligations in addition to being in compliance with the state biosolids rule, the General Permit for Biosolids Management, and any submitted plans results in a facility having “provisional approval”. Provisional approval refers to the fact that there is an additional review process specific to each facility. As a condition of final approval of coverage, the department may impose additional or more stringent requirements beyond those of the basic general permit if they are necessary to protect public health or the environment. The department cannot complete its review of an application until all necessary information has been submitted. Final approval of coverage may take a long time. The department works with limited resources and there are approximately 380 facilities in Washington State which must eventually come under the permit program.
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