PREPROPOSAL STATEMENT OF INQUIRY
Subject of Possible Rule Making: Revision of chapter 173-50 WAC, Accreditation of environmental laboratories. The amendments will change the fee schedule of ecology's environmental laboratory accreditation program (ELAP) and will change some business practices to reflect a cut in the program budget.
Statutes Authorizing the Agency to Adopt Rules on this Subject: RCW 43.21A.230 allows ecology to accredit environmental laboratories. The state department of health (DOH) has delegated to ecology in a memorandum of understanding their RCW 43.20.050 authority to certify drinking water laboratories.
Reasons Why Rules on this Subject may be Needed and What They Might Accomplish: Our current fee structure does not cover the full cost of ecology's ELAP, and consequently the services we provide to labs are subsidized by the state general fund. In the current budget, the legislature directed ecology to raise fees to cover the cost of the program. We have eliminated one of seven positions in the program, but still need to raise fees by about 45% to fully fund the remaining program. Our fee structure revision will also align fees with the level of services required to accredit different types of labs. With the loss of one of our positions, we will also need to change some business practices specified in the rules; this will reduce our oversight of accredited labs. We are also clarifying the grounds for revoking or suspending accreditation so that our rules expressly state that suspension or revocation can occur for failure to pay mandatory fees and for failure to maintain third party or reciprocal accreditation.
Other Federal and State Agencies that Regulate this Subject and the Process Coordinating the Rule with These Agencies: The United States Environmental Protection Agency's federal drinking water certification program is administered in Washington by DOH. Through a memorandum of understanding, ecology has assumed the drinking water certification mission from DOH. Staff of DOH will assist us in conducting workshops for stakeholders and will be copied on all communications related to this rule change.
Process for Developing New Rule: The process will include mailings to all stakeholders, information posted on our web site, workshops, and public hearings.
Interested parties can participate in the decision to adopt the new rule and formulation of the proposed rule before publication by contacting Stew Lombard, Lab Accreditation Unit Supervisor, Environmental Assessment Program, (360) 895-6148, fax (360) 895-6180, or e-mail Stew.Lombard@ecy.wa.gov. Stakeholders will be informed of the proposed changes to chapter 173-50 WAC by regular or electronic mail, and invited to participate in workshops where those changes will be described and discussed in detail. The mailing will include a focus sheet summarizing the proposed changes. Progress on the rule revision will be described on our web site and public hearings will be conducted to receive and respond to input on the proposed changes.
September 15, 2009
EAP Program Manager