Dept. of Ecology looks to raise permit fees and reward innovation

The Department of Ecology is proposing increases to permit fees and incentives to reduce pollution.

With nearly 6,000 local governments and businesses across the state having water quality permits, the Washington Department of Ecology is looking to encourage innovative approaches to pollution reduction.

In a release, Ecology tells KXRO that they are proposing to offer facilities a three-year, 75 percent reduction in permit fees for “engaging in market research and development of products or processes that reduce pollution”.

“Our state is filled with innovators and we want to encourage a holistic environmental approach to operations,” said Heather Bartlett, Water Quality Program Manager. “This would allow us to financially incentivize our permittees to take action beyond water quality. The environmental benefits could be related to improving our land, air, or water.”

Ecology’s water quality permitting program protects state waters by managing when, where, and how stormwater and treated wastewater enters the environment. State law requires Ecology to use permit fees to cover the costs of implementing these programs. The fees can range into the thousands depending on the type of activity the permit covers.

While allowing for reductions to reduce pollution, Ecology is also proposing an increase in the annual stormwater and wastewater discharge permit fees.  

In their preliminary regulatory analysis it states, “Without fee increases, Ecology would likely need to reduce staff or program services, which would result in more time needed to process applications, revisions, and renewals. This would increase the likelihood of a facility being out of compliance with other rules, resulting in potential penalties and increased risk to human health and the environment. “

This update also includes the proposed fees for the winery general permit fee category, a new general permit that goes into effect on July 1, 2019.

General information on water quality permit fees is on the permit fees webpage.

Preliminary Regulatory Analyses for all changes.


Comments are due by April 30, 2019.  You may submit comments by:

  • Testifying or submit written comments at the public hearing.
  • Use our online comment system
  • Mail comments to:Washington State Department of Ecology,
    Charles Gilman, Water Quality Program
    PO Box 47600
    Olympia, WA  98504-7600

We will be holding a hearing in person and via webinar on April 23, 2019 at 10 a.m. at:

Department of Ecology Headquarters

300 Desmond Dr. SE

Lacey, WA 98503


Register for the webinar