Wastewater/Stormwater Discharge Permit Fees


Background Information

The Department of Ecology is authorized 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 (Ecology version of Chapter 173-224 WAC). Fee-eligible activities include:

Permit fees are paid by holders of federal and state wastewater and stormwater discharge permits issued by Ecology. 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 that have been issued by Ecology in the State of Washington.

Funding for the permit program was initially paid for by citizens 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 holders of wastewater discharge permits to pay annual fees for discharging into waters of the state.  Fees paid by holders of wastewater and stormwater discharge permits are deposited into a dedicated account. The Legislature authorizes Ecology to spend fee monies from that account on fee-eligible activities.

When the program began in 1988, Ecology recovered approximately $3.6 million dollars a biennium from approximately 900 fee payers. For the 2012-2013 biennium (July 1, 2010 - June 30, 2013), Ecology recovered $37.1 million in revenue from approximately 5,950 fee payers.

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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 the Billing and Revenue Tracking System (BARTS) which creates invoices that are mailed out twice per year for most permit holders with the exception of construction stormwater general permit holders, any permit holder whose annual fee is greater than $500 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 November 2013. Ecology is amending the rule for FY2016/FY2017. The process started on January 1, 2015.

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 collection when appropriate. In cases where payment continues to remain delinquent after the account is at collection for a year, actions are then taken by Ecology that will formally revoke (current list of revoked permits) the permit for nonpayment of fees.

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

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Permit Fee Unit Contact Information

Charles Gilman, Fee Program Administrator
Financial Management Section
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.
Processes small business and extreme hardship fee reduction requests. Contact person for industrial & municipal wastewater permit fee questions.

Mailing Address
        PO Box 47600
        Olympia, WA 98504-7600

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

Fax Number

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Billing Information

Ecology mails invoices directly to permit holders. Wastewater & industrial stormwater permit holders whose annual fee is greater than $650.00 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 $650.00, 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 November 18, 2015 for Fiscal Year 2016 and 2017 (July 1, 2015-June 30, 2017). 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 Charles Gilman at 360-407-6425 or send email to charles.gilman@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 will be referred for collection. In addition, a surcharge of 20 percent of the amount owed is added to the delinquent amount to cover the cost of the collection action. If payment is not received by the collection agency, Ecology can take formal enforcement action against the permit holder, including but not limited to termination of 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 need to contact Ecology’s Regional Office 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
cgru461@ecy.wa.gov          swal461@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 September 12, 2016

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