Wastewater/Stormwater Discharge Permit Fees


Background Information

The Department of Ecology is required by state law, RCW 90.48.465 - Water Pollution Control, to adopt rules to fund the operation of the Water Quality Wastewater and Stormwater Discharge Permit Programs.

As a result of this law, Ecology adopted by rule WAC 173-224 - Wastewater Discharge Permit Fees, which contains a fee schedule for collecting Ecology’s expenses for issuing and administering wastewater and stormwater discharge permits. Fee-eligible activities include:

Permit holders with coverage under wastewater and stormwater discharge permits issued by Ecology pay permit fees. Wastewater discharge permit holders include large and small industries such as pulp mills, fish hatcheries, fruit packing operations, and food processing facilities. Domestic wastewater treatment plants operated by government jurisdictions are also required to have wastewater discharge permits. Currently, there are approximately 6,000 +/- wastewater and/or stormwater permits issued by Ecology across the state.

Citizens initially paid for the permit program through state general revenues appropriated by the Washington State Legislature and federal grants. In 1988, voters passed Initiative 97 (now codified as RCW 90.48.465) requiring wastewater discharge permit holders to pay annual fees for discharging into waters of the state. Fees paid by wastewater and stormwater discharge permit holders are deposited into a dedicated account. The Legislature authorizes Ecology to spend fee monies from that account on fee-eligible activities.

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Fee Program Administration

The Ecology Permit Fee Unit has the responsibility of assessing permit fees for all permit holders. Billing information is entered into our invoice tracking system which creates invoices that are mailed out twice per year for most permit holders, with the exception of construction stormwater general permit holders (billed annually in July/August). Any permit holder whose annual fee is $500 or greater is billed twice per year. The first billing occurs in the July/August timeframe or upon permit issuance. The second billing occurs during the February/March timeframe statement.

The Washington State Legislature establishes the budget amount Ecology needs to recover through permit fees. This action occurs every two years when the state budget is passed (every odd year). Because of this (WAC 173-224) Wastewater Discharge Permit Fees must be amended to allow for recovery of the costs Ecology will incur operating the permit program at the budgeted level established by the Legislature. Ecology last amended the fee regulation in August 2017.

State law, RCW 90.48.465(4) - Water Pollution Control, requires Ecology to consider the impact of fees on small business and provide appropriate adjustment. Ecology responds to this mandate by granting Small Business/Extreme Hardship Fee Reductions on a yearly basis.

The Permit Fee Unit also tracks delinquent fee accounts and refers them for enforcement and/or collection when appropriate.

Fees are based on the state’s fiscal year that begins July 1 and ends on June 30. Permit fees stop when Ecology grants a permit termination or when the permit coverage expires.

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Permit Fee Unit Contact Information

Charles Gilman, Fee Program Administrator
Budget & Fees Unit
Water Quality Program
Processes delinquent accounts. Assigns fee categories to permits. Responds to permit fee appeals. Amends permit fee regulation. Prepare permit fee legislative report.

Emily Haeger, Fee Unit Analyst
Budget & Fees Unit
Water Quality Program

Processes small business and extreme hardship fee reduction requests. Contact person for construction, industrial, and municipal wastewater permit fee questions.

Mailing Address
        PO Box 47600
        Olympia, WA 98504-7600

Toll Free Phone Number
        1-800-633-6193 (Option 2)

Fax Number

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Billing Information

Ecology mails invoices directly to permit holders. Wastewater and industrial stormwater permit holders whose annual fee is $500 or greater are given the option of paying the fee amount in full or requesting to have the annual fee split into two equal payments. If the fee is less than $500, the full amount is billed at the beginning of the state fiscal year (July/August). Construction stormwater permit holders are billed annually.

Permits issued during the fiscal year will be mailed a fee invoice within a few weeks of permit issuance.

Ecology normally begins mailing out invoices to permit holders in July. However, during the year the fee rule is being amended, this schedule is subject to change.

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Rule Amendment Process

Ecology finalized the fee rule amendment process on August 19, 2017 for Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019 (July 1, 2017-June 30, 2019). Find more information at Wastewater/Stormwater Permit Fee Rulemaking.


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Small Business/Extreme Hardship Reductions for wastewater and construction stormwater permit holders.

A business may apply for a small business fee reduction if it meets the following criteria:

  1. Be a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or other legal entity formed for the purpose of making a profit;
  2. Be independently owned and operated from all other businesses (that is, not a subsidiary of a parent company);
  3. Have annual sales of one million ($1,000,000.00) dollars or less of the goods and services produced using the processes regulated by the wastewater discharge permit; and
  4. Pay an annual wastewater discharge permit fee greater than five hundred ($500.00) dollars.

A business may apply for an extreme hardship fee reduction if it has annual sales of one hundred thousand ($100,000.00) dollars or less of the goods and services produced using the processes regulated by the wastewater discharge permit.

If you have any questions, please contact the Fee Unit at 800-633-6193, Option 2 or send email to wqfee_unit@ecy.wa.gov.

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Delinquent Fee Accounts

Permit holders who do not pay the assessed permit fee by the billing due date are considered delinquent. Delinquent permit holders are notified directly by Ecology that if payment is not received upon a specified date, the account may be referred for enforcement. In addition, the account may be referred for collection. The collection agency adds a surcharge of 20 percent of the amount owed to cover the cost of the collection action. If payment is not received, Ecology may terminate the permit for nonpayment of fees.

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Permit Termination

Permit fees stop when the permit has been officially terminated by Ecology or when permit coverage expires. Permit holders must contact Ecology as soon as a permitted activity ceases. Permit fees will continue until the permit has been canceled regardless of when the permitted activity stops.

Water Quality Coordinators in each of Ecology’s regional offices are the primary contacts for information about specific permits.

Northwest Regional Office Central Regional Office
Tricia Miller 425-649-7181

King, Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, San Juan, Kitsap and Island
Cynthia Huwe 509-457-7105

Yakima, Benton, Klickitat, Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas, and Okanogan
Southwest Regional Office  Eastern Regional Office
Municipal/General Permits            Industrial Permits
Carey Cholski                              Melinda Wilson
360-407-6279                            360-407-6280
carey.cholski@ecy.wa.gov          melinda.wilson@ecy.wa.gov
Thurston, Clallam, Jefferson, Mason, Grays Harbor, Pierce, Lewis, Skamania, Wahkiakum, Cowlitz, Clark, and Pacific
Shara-Li Joy 509-329-3455

Spokane, Grant, Adams, Whitman,  Franklin, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, and Lincoln

Stormwater General Permit Contacts

Shawn Hopkins
Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla, Whatcom, Whitman
Josh Klimek
Kitsap, Pierce, City of Seattle, Thurston
RaChelle Stane
Island, King (exclude City of Seattle), San Juan
Joyce Smith
Benton, Chelan, Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Douglas, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lewis, Mason, Okanogan, Pacific, Skamania, Wahkiakum, Yakima



If you have problems with this web page, please contact Charles Gilman.

Updated October 02, 2017

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