WSR 05-09-123


[ Filed April 20, 2005, 11:01 a.m. ]


Notice is hereby given that the Washington State Department of Ecology is issuing a new statewide General Permit for Biosolids Management (general permit) to replace the existing general permit. Mailing address and the main reception phone number for the Department of Ecology are: P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600, phone (360) 407-6000. The physical address is: 300 Desmond Drive S.E., Lacey, WA 98503.

The department was granted the authority to develop and implement a state biosolids program under chapter 70.95J RCW. The program is required to at least meet the requirements of applicable federal rules and the Federal Clean Water Act as it existed on February 4, 1987. The regulatory structure for the state biosolids program is contained in chapter 173-308 WAC, Biosolids management. The process described in chapter 173-226 WAC was used for the issuance of this general permit. The standards for biosolids management in chapter 173-308 WAC along with appropriate best management practices were used to establish the conditions in the general permit which are intended to protect public health and the environment.

This permit is the primary regulatory mechanism for approving the final use or disposal of biosolids in areas under the jurisdiction of the state of Washington. This permit applies to all treatment works treating domestic sewage that prepare biosolids for beneficial use, apply biosolids to the land, transfer biosolids to or from another facility, or dispose of biosolids in a municipal solid waste landfill. The majority of affected facilities are publicly owned wastewater treatment plants, privately owned wastewater treatment plants that treat only domestic sewage, and similar state and federal facilities (military bases, prisons, parks, etc.). Other types of facilities include but may not be limited to private composting facilities that treat biosolids as a feedstock, beneficial use facilities as defined by the state biosolids rule, and central septage management facilities (some public and private facilities which accept mostly septage from more than one pumper source). In some cases facilities in this latter group may secure permits from local jurisdictional health departments and, consequently, may not need to obtain coverage under the state permit program.

This permit has statewide applicability, including federal facilities, but does not apply to activities which occur on or to facilities which are located on tribal lands. If biosolids are generated or treated on tribal lands and subsequently transported to state or federal lands, then this permit may be applicable for activities that occur outside of tribal lands.

Three hundred twenty-four facilities have indicated that they will apply for coverage under the new general permit after it becomes effective. A list of these facilities can be found at In addition, it is estimated that up to seventy-five additional facilities will either need to apply for coverage under a new general permit or seek to be covered under an individual permit.

Each facility seeking coverage under a new general permit will need to submit (or provide evidence the document/information has previously been submitted) a permit application package that includes at least the following: A completed Application for Coverage, basic facility information including name, contacts, location, and relevant jurisdictions, information on any other environmental permits, a vicinity map of the facility, a vicinity map of any associated treatment or storage facilities, a treatment facility schematic, information on the mass of biosolids produced and managed, confirmation that State Environmental Policy Act requirements have been met, confirmation that public notice requirements have been met, land application plans if required, biosolids monitoring data if required, a biosolids sampling plan if required, a contingency plan for "exceptional quality" biosolids if required, a temporary disposal plan if required, a spill response/prevention plan if required, any other information the applicant deems helpful or that is required by the department, and a signature by an appropriate official.

Coverage under the general permit will be provided in two phases: (1) Provisional approval, and (2) final approval. "Provisional" approval is obtained for any facility submitting a Notice of Intent and a complete Application for Coverage as provided for in the rules. "Final" approval may be granted after department review of the original permit application and operating practices. Coverage will be approved for those facilities that submit complete and correct applications for coverage and that propose and implement practices in compliance with the conditions of the permit, state rules, and consistent with good management practices. The permit (and rule) provides for the possibility of imposing additional or more stringent standards as a condition of final approval of coverage, on a case-by-case basis.

Notice of the draft permit was issued in the state register and published in several regional newspapers across the state on March 2, 2005. In addition, a news release on the draft permit was issued on March 7, 2005. A public comment period of thirty-seven days was allowed. Two public hearings were held. Several comments were received during the public comment period. A responsiveness summary to the comments received has been prepared. The comments resulted in several changes to the draft general permit that are found in the final general permit. A brief summary of the changes made follows:

1) Added a definition of "accredited laboratory" to Section 2. Rationale: Necessary for clarification purposes. 2) Added language in Subsection 4.2 regarding a requirement for facilities who export their biosolids outside the jurisdiction of the state to provide some documentation that the importing facility is in compliance with their applicable local, state, or federal requirements. The requirement now applies to biosolids exported to facilities located out-of-state, out-of-country, or tribal lands. Rationale: Necessary for clarification purposes. 3) Added language in Subsection stipulating that copies of public notice announcements must be sent to persons on the "interested parties" at the time of or before the public comment period commences. Rationale: Necessary for clarification purposes. 4) Deleted Subsection that required a facility make a "reasonable" effort to contact all "adjacent" property owners for sites where application of Class B biosolids is proposed for application. Rationale: a) Site- and facility-specific conditions should dictate the specific means of public notice; b) the state biosolids rule and SEPA rules already provide several means by which public notice can be conducted; and c) the department already maintains an option to require public notice be conducted in a certain manner under Subsection 5) Added language in Subsection 8.2.4 regarding options for allowing a reduction in sampling after two years. The new language states that this allowance exists even if the requirement is an "additional and more stringent requirement" issued as part of final coverage unless the condition specifically states that there will be no reduction allowed. Rationale: Necessary for clarification purposes. 6) Added language in Subsection 8.3 regarding requirements for using an accredited laboratory for required biosolids analyses. The new language clarifies the requirement by stating that the use of an ecology-accredited laboratory is only required for required analyses and only for such analyses when an accreditation program exists. Rationale: Necessary for clarification purposes. 7) Removed "exceptional quality" from the title for Table 8.4. Rationale: Necessary for clarification purposes. 8) Changed language in Subsection 9.8(2) to require that the department be notified of any spills of biosolids during transportation as soon as possible, but not more than three days after the spill occurs. Rationale: Necessary for improved reporting of spills that occur. 9) Changed the timeframe for reporting noncompliance from a maximum of thirty days to a maximum of five days in Subsection 9.19.4. Rationale: Necessary to ensure prompt reporting of noncompliance by permittees. 10) Changed Section 13 (septage management) to require that the same site access and site management restrictions apply to septage managed as such regardless of whether it is alkaline-stabilized prior to application or directly applied without alkaline-stabilization. Rationale: Deemed necessary to protect public health. 11) Changed language in Subsection 13.5.1, Bullet #2, clarifying the requirements for testing pH for alkaline-stabilized septage. The new language makes it clear that a pH of twelve or greater must be verified prior to the commencement of the minimum thirty-minute stabilization period during which the pH must remain at a pH of twelve or greater. Rationale: Necessary for clarification purposes. 12) Clarified language in Subsection 13.6 about the applicability of Equation 13.1 to state that it applies to all septage managed as such and that a derivative of Equation 13.1 can be used to back-calculate the application rate when applying a dewatered septage product. Provided a reference for guidance on performing the derivative equation. Rationale: Necessary for clarification purposes and to provide additional guidance. 13) Inserted language in Subsection 16.1 providing for the establishment of a maximum permit fee of $500.00 for biosolids incineration facilities. Rationale: Biosolids incineration facilities should pay a permit fee, but this fee should be limited.

The terms and conditions of this permit may be appealed. Any appeal must be filed with the Pollution Control Hearings Board and served on the department within thirty days. The basic process for an appeal is outlined in RCW 43.21B.310. Other rules and laws may also govern your appeal.

The permit will become effective thirty days from this notice (June 3, 2005).

For additional information you may contact Daniel Thompson, Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600, phone (360) 407-6108, e-mail, or go to the biosolids general permit webpage at At this webpage you can find several documents, including the final general permit and the responsiveness summary. You may also obtain documents at the mailing address listed above.

Washington State Code Reviser's Office