Introduction | Program Activities | Contacts & Organization
• Protect and Restore Washington’s Waters
• Prevent water pollution including aquatic habitat loss, and ensure adequate water quality and quantity to meet beneficial uses
• Clean up water pollution to restore beneficial uses and aquatic habitat
• Help communities make sustainable choices that reduce and prevent water quality problems
• Provide water quality partners with technical and financial assistance
• Provide useful information for the public, partners and agency and involve stakeholders in decision-making
• Support all staff so that we can be successful as an organization and as individuals
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The purpose of nearly all of the work conducted by the Water Quality Program is to prevent point source pollution or reduce nonpoint source pollution, or a combination of both. However, for planning and reporting purposes, the Program is divided into five major activities. In addition to point and nonpoint pollution management, three significant areas of work that are common to both point and nonpoint pollution are controlling stormwater pollution, providing financial assistance, and cleaning up polluted waters.
The agency regulates discharges of pollutants to surface and ground waters by writing wastewater discharge permits for sewage treatment plants, stormwater, and industrial discharges. A permit is a rigorous set of limits, monitoring requirements, or management practices, usually specific to a discharge, which is designed to ensure that a facility can meet both treatment and water quality standards. The program conducts inspections and site visits every two years to about 25 percent of more than 2,300 permit holders. Technical assistance and follow-up on permit violations are also provided through various means.
Nonpoint source pollution (polluted runoff) is the leading cause of water pollution and poses a major health and economic threat. Types of nonpoint pollution include fecal coliform bacteria, elevated water temperature, pesticides, sediments, and nutrients. Sources of pollution include agriculture, forestry, urban and rural runoff, recreation, hydro modification, and loss of aquatic ecosystems. The program addresses these problems through raising awareness, encouraging community action, providing funding, and supporting local decision makers. Other areas include coordination with other agencies through the Washington State Nonpoint Workgroup; Forest Practices Technical Assistance (working with the Department of Natural Resources); and Agricultural Technical Assistance (working with the Conservation Commission).
The Program, under the federal Clean Water Act, regulates industries, businesses, construction sites, boatyards, and the state’s most populated cities and counties to control stormwater pollution. Ecology uses a permit system to set limits on discharges, management actions, or both to prevent their discharged water from harming our lakes, rivers, streams and marine waters. Permitted entities must monitor and report their own pollution levels in their water discharges. The discharges must fall within limits set by the permit. Ecology’s Water Quality Program manages approximately 5,000 permits annually.
The Program provides grants, low-interest loans, and technical assistance to local governments, state agencies, and tribes to enable them to build, upgrade, repair, or replace facilities to improve and protect water quality. The agency also funds nonpoint-source control projects, such as watershed planning, stormwater management, education, and agricultural best management practices. It coordinates strategic grant and loan assistance with other state and federal funding agencies.
The federal Clean Water Act requires the agency to identify water bodies that fail to meet water quality standards. The results are published in the Water Quality Assessment (WQA). The WQA contains both the 303(d) List and the 305(b) Report in a single integrated report. The agency then works with local interests to prepare cleanup plans (also known as TMDLs) to reduce such pollution, establishes conditions in discharge permits and nonpoint-source management plans, and monitors the effectiveness of the cleanup plan.
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For responses to general questions (will be forwarded to appropriate staff)
Department of Ecology contact information including expertise, e-mail, and phone directories
Water Quality Program Organization Chart
For further information, contact the following people in the Water Quality Program. Persons with hearing loss, call 711 for Washington Relay Service. Persons with a speech disability, call 877-833-6341.
Program Manager, Acting (Lacey)
Don Seeberger, 360-407-6489
Financial Mgmt. Section (Lacey)
Jeff Nejedly 360-407-6572
Program Development Services Section (Lacey)
Bill Moore 360-407-6460
Watershed Mgmt. Section (Lacey)
Melissa Gildersleeve 360-407-6461
Central Region (Yakima)
Charles McKinney 509-457-7107
Eastern Region (Spokane)
James Bellatty 509-329-3534
Northwest Region (Bellevue)
Kevin Fitzpatrick 425-649-7033
Southwest Region (Lacey)
Greg Zentner, acting 360-407-6271
Public Information (Lacey)
Sandy Howard 360-407-6408
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