Plain Talk at Ecology

Before and After Examples

Rules for storing dangerous waste

Owners and operators of all dangerous waste facilities are required to store dangerous waste according to Ecology's dangerous waste rules (WAC 173-303-630).  Instead of handing out two pages of text in WAC format, staff in our Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction program created a poster to explain the requirements using a visually enhanced 10-point checklist.

Auto emission check program

There are five emission test stations in Washington. When a car fails the emission test the owner needs to fix the problems before they can register their vehicle with Department of Licensing. Before Plain Talk, each emission test station had their own version of information handouts they gave to car owners. This was eight different handouts that added up to 44 pages of information. Now each station is using the same two-page handout titled, "Your Vehicle Failed Its Emission Test. Now What?". This handout provides the general information for all five stations and directs people to the Emission Check Program's Web site where they can find the rest of the information like authorized emission repair facilities and station hours and locations.  Now all stations are giving out consistent information and we are using less paper.

Implementation guide for Chapter 173-407 WAC

The Air Quality Program did a great job with their implementation guide for Chapter 173-407 WAC.  It is a great example of how to use question headings, bulleted lists and white space.


Guidance manual for water quality certifications for existing hydropower dams

The Plain Talk Team worked with Water Quality staff to apply the Plain Talk principles to this guidance document.  The group focused on the organization of the document to make it easier for the audience to find information.

Public participation plan for site cleanup

Toxics Cleanup Program (Southwest Regional Office) prepared a public participation plan for a cleanup site.  They asked the Plain Talk Team to review the plan for clarity.

Registration and inventory questionnaire for portable generator engines

With the help of the Team the Air Program revised several forms.  Working together they developed the new layout for the forms to use in the Eastern Regional Office.  Below is an example of one of the new forms.

Clean school bus program - report to the Legislature

In 2003, the state legislature funded a new air quality program called the "Clean School Bus Program". This is the document Ecology wrote to the Legislature to explain how the money was used to design and implement the program.

Field notice of correction form for open burning

Air program staff completed revisions to the field notice of correction form for open burning.  They then worked with the Plain Talk Team to review the document and make additional changes.

Notice to permittees about guidance document for completing Integrated Aquatic Vegetative Management Plans

Recently the Water Quality (WQ) program completed a guidance document about how to complete a Plan.  For this project Plain Talk team members worked with WQ employees to revise a letter being sent to permittees to let them know the document is available.

Water reclamation case study template

For this project the Plain Talk Team worked with employees in Water Quality's Reclaimed Water unit. Together they developed a template to use when writing water reclamation case studies. Below is an example for the Budd Inlet Class A Reclaimed Water Facility.

Interim cleanup action fact sheet

The Plain Talk Team worked with employees in the Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program to develop a template for Fact Sheets. Below is an example of a what a completed fact sheet will look like.

Vancouver Field Office customer survey

The Vancouver Field Office recently conducted a customer survey to get some feedback on the services they provide. Below is a copy of the cover letter that was sent with the survey, a print copy of the survey, and the web version of the survey.

Industrial stormwater Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) letter

This is the letter sent to permittees informing them about their monitoring requirements.  It includes an informational letter, a monitoring report form and instruction sheet.

Underground storage tank endorsement notice

When owners of underground storage tanks did not renew their tank fees, provide proof of pollution liability insurance, or were missing information about their pollution liability insurance they were sent the original letter which was vague in what the site owner needed to do to get back into compliance.

The original letter was only targeting a small group of the customers on the Department of Licensing's Delinquent Notice List, which contains an average of 1500 customers who had not paid their tank renewal fee. As a result of the plain talk rewrite, the revised letter targets 100% of the site owners on the list.

The new letter provides staff with a quick method to send out information and tank owners with the specific information they need to fix the problem. The new letter should reduce the number of phone calls to the agency and the number of tank(s) on the delinquent list.

Southwest Regional Office (SWRO) water right permit letters

The water right permitting process is often a long and complicated one. It may require numerous interactions between the applicant and Ecology staff over what can be a period of years. This was an opportunity to review some of the most frequently sent letters used throughout the process, as well as related documents and forms. For the correspondence, we focused on:

Ultimately the revised letters should help with increased compliance and therefore reduce the staff time taken with questions, sending reminder letters, and so on.