WSR 05-05-093


[ Filed February 16, 2005, 9:56 a.m. ]


Notice is hereby given that the Washington State Department of Ecology is proposing to issue 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 will be used for issuing this general permit. The standards for biosolids management in chapter 173-308 WAC along with appropriate best management practices will be used to establish the conditions in the general permit which are intended to protect public health and the environment.

This permit will be 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 will apply 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.

As required by WAC 173-226-120, an economic impact analysis (EIA) was conducted to assess whether or not the draft general permit might have a disproportionate economic impact on small businesses relative to large businesses. An EIA was conducted on the existing general permit in 1997. The current EIA focused strictly on the potential economic impact of the nine proposed amendments in the draft general permit, not on other conditions in the general permit which were addressed in the 1997 EIA. To summarize, the EIA concluded that the costs of the amendments to the draft general permit may have a disproportionate economic impact on small businesses relative to large businesses. However, the EIA lists a large number of cost-saving features which were not evaluated in the EIA but that are expected to reduce the impacts on small businesses. The EIA can be accessed at the following website

Two public hearings will be held on the permit. One will be held on April 6, 2005, from 6-8 p.m. in the Auditorium at the Department of Ecology headquarters building at 300 Desmond Drive S.E., Lacey, WA 98503. The other public hearing will be held on April 7, 2005, from 6-8 p.m. in the Oreana Room at the Department of Ecology's Central Regional Office building at 15 West Yakima Avenue, Yakima, WA 98902.

If you wish to be included on an interested parties list to receive notification of activities relating to the development of a final general permit, please notify Daniel Thompson (contact information listed below).

There will be a thirty-day comment period for this draft permit. All comments received on this draft permit by the Department of Ecology by 5 p.m. on April 8, 2005, will be considered during the development of a final general permit. Anyone may express their comments, concerns, or recommendations regarding the draft permit by submitting comments in writing or at a public hearing. Comments will be accepted by e-mail or by other means, including U.S. mail, delivered to the Department of Ecology headquarters office by the close of the comment period. Appropriate changes, if any, will be made before issuing the final permit. A summary of responses to comments received will be prepared and available for review by April 30, 2005.

Comments or requests for additional information should be addressed to Daniel Thompson via the contact information listed below. You may obtain documents at the mailing address listed above.

In addition to the above described opportunities to participate in formulation of a final general permit or to obtain additional information, the department also has created a web page for the draft general permit. The page contains information and documents specific to the draft permit. You may use this page for tracking activities related to the draft permit, to make comments on the draft permit during the public comment period, or to subscribe to the general permit mailing list. This page is located at

The department anticipates issuing a final general permit by May 4, 2005.

For additional information or to comment on the draft general permit, please contact Daniel Thompson, Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600, phone (360) 407-6108, e-mail

Washington State Code Reviser's Office