WSR 05-24-123


[ Filed December 7, 2005, 9:46 a.m. ]

Public Comment Period on Proposed Modification

of the Sand and Gravel General Permit

The Department of Ecology (ecology) is proposing to modify "The Sand and Gravel General Permit: A National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and State Waste Discharge General Permit" (the sand and gravel general permit). On January 5, 2005, ecology issued the current sand and gravel general permit. In February 2005, Washington Concrete and Aggregates Association (WACA) and the Puget Sound Keeper Alliance (PSA) appealed the permit to the Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB).

Over the spring and summer of 2005, ecology worked with both appealing parties to reach a negotiated settlement of the two appeals of the sand and gravel general permit. In late September, the three parties reached a settlement, which resulted in the three parties signing a stipulation and agreed order of dismissal. On October 21, 2005, the PCHB entered the stipulation and agreed order of dismissal and closed the two appeals. Under the agreement, ecology must initiate a public comment period to modify the sand and gravel general permit within sixty days of the date that the PCHB enters the order of dismissal. As part of the settlement agreement, the appealing parties worked out the exact permit language for the proposed permit modifications.

NOTE: Copies of both appeals and settlement documents are available from the Department of Ecology web site at To obtain a copy directly from ecology, contact Jennifer Hennessey at (360) 407-7529.

Ecology drafted a modified permit to reflect the settlement. The draft permit and fact sheet are available for review and public comment from December 21, 2005, to January 31, 2006. Ecology will host an informational workshop and public hearing on its proposed permit. The public is encouraged to give written comments during the public comment period or oral comments at the public hearings.

The public comment period is only on the proposed permit modifications. Ecology also agreed to provide an opportunity for public comment regarding the frequency of pH monitoring of the permit during the proposed permit modification comment period (see condition S2). Ecology will not consider comments received on any other parts of the permit (i.e. those parts of the permit that are not being changed).

Purpose of the General Permit: The proposed general permit covers discharges of stormwater and wastewater from sand and gravel operations to both surface and ground waters of Washington state. Under federal and state water quality law (federal Clean Water Act, Title 33 United States Code, Section 1251 et seq.) and state Water Pollution Control Act (RCW 90.48.160 and 90.48.260), a permit is required for the discharge of wastewater. The proposed permit addresses these legal requirements and controls the discharge of pollutants to protect surface water and ground water quality in Washington state.

A general permit is like an individual wastewater discharge permit except that it addresses a group of facilities as a whole. Ecology develops a single permit to use standard stormwater management, treatment, monitoring, and reporting requirements for all permit holders covered under the general permit. Interested persons are encouraged to obtain a copy of the proposed modified permit and fact sheet addendum and/or attend a workshop and hearing.

Some of the changes proposed in this permit modification include:

Dropped the requirement to sample type 2 stormwater.
Added language to make the permit consistent with other applicable laws. For example, no discharge can cause or contribute to a violation of other water quality standards.
Changed total maximum daily load (TMDL) requirements. TMDLs issued after the final sand and gravel permit are only applicable to facility, if ecology imposes them through the issuance of an administrative order.
Changed pH monitoring requirements. If a facility meets standards for eighteen consecutive months, it can reduce monitoring from once per month to once per quarter. The permit restores original monitoring frequency, if a facility violates pH limits or significantly changes its processing.
Clarified conditions for reducing frequency of turbidity monitoring.
Changed daily effluent limitation for oil sheen to "no visible sheen." The permittee may now monitor for oil sheen at representative locations, rather than the discharge point.
Added new conditions for public access to a facility's stormwater pollution prevention plan.
Changed reference for "equivalent stormwater management guidance documents" to the stormwater management manuals for either eastern or western Washington.
Clarified inspection processes to make consistent with applicable laws and requirements for inactive mining sites and certification of inspection reports.
For all detailed changes, please consult the draft modified permit and fact sheet addendum.

Requesting Copies of the Permit: You can request copies of the proposed permit and fact sheet by contacting Jennifer Hennessey, Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600, phone (360) 407-7529, fax (360) 407-6426, e-mail

The proposed permit and fact sheet are also available online at

Submitting Written and Oral Comments: Ecology will accept written and oral comments on the proposed permit modifications and pH monitoring for the sand and gravel general permit. Comments should reference specific text when possible. Ecology is only accepting comments on its proposed changes and pH monitoring (section S2). Comments may address the following:

Technical issues,
Accuracy and completeness of information,
The scope of facilities proposed for coverage,
Adequacy of environmental protection and permit conditions, or
Any other concern that would result from issuance of the revised permit.
Please submit written comments to Sand and Gravel General Permit Modification, Water Quality Program, Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600, fax (360) 407-6426, e-mail

Ecology must receive all written, e-mailed and faxed comments no later than 5 p.m., Tuesday, January 31, 2006. The public can provide oral comments by attending and testifying at the public hearings.

Public Workshop/Hearing: The workshop begins at 2 p.m. The hearings will begin when the workshop ends. The purpose of the workshop is to explain the general permit modifications and answer questions. The purpose of the hearing is to provide an opportunity for people to give formal comments on the proposed permit modifications. The public workshop and hearing on the draft general permit is in Olympia, on Wednesday, January 25, 2006, at 2 p.m., Department of Ecology, ROA 32, 300 Desmond Drive, Olympia, WA 98504.

Issuing the Final Modified Sand and Gravel General Permit: Ecology will issue the final permit after it considers all public comments. The schedule following the public comment period depends on the volume and nature of comments received. Ecology expects to issue the permit and have it effective no earlier than March 31, 2006. When ecology issues the permit, it will send a copy of the final permit decision and a copy of the responsiveness summary to everyone who commented or requests copies.

If you have special accommodation needs or require a copy of the permit and fact sheet in an alternative format, please contact the water quality program at (360) 407-6401. If you are a person with a speech or hearing impairment, call 711 or 800-833-6388 for TTY.