Thursday, January 16, 2020

Public invited to participate in early comment period for statewide biosolids general permit

The Department of Ecology’s public processes can be wide reaching, often impacting many communities or sometimes just a few people. From permitting a long-time industrial facility to measuring the environmental impacts of a project proposal, Ecology acts throughout Washington on behalf of residents to protect and enhance this remarkable state where the environment and economy go hand-in-hand.
A wastewater treatment plant in Wenatchee
Most of Washington's biosolids are created at wastewater treatment plants
like this one in Wenatchee. 

One of the processes we undertake every five years is the redevelopment of a statewide biosolids general permit. Biosolids are a product of wastewater treatment systems, rich in organic material and nutrients, and used by farmers across Washington to grow a variety of crops. With Ecology’s oversight, proper testing and application ensures this product benefits farmers and soil without leaching nutrients into surface or groundwater.

We begin the permit development process by engaging stakeholders – both the regulated community and the general public – to first answer a question and then move forward on the development of our fifth biosolids statewide general permit.

Through January 24, Ecology is asking the public to weigh in on that initial question: “Is a statewide general permit appropriate for the regulation of biosolids under state rules?”

Responses, comments, questions, and requests can be sent to:
Emily Kijowski, Department of Ecology
Solid Waste Management
P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600.

Comments must be received or postmarked no later than Jan. 24, 2020. Visit our biosolids page for more information.

What do you think?

If a member of the public believes that biosolids cannot be properly managed under a statewide general permit, they should explain their concern and how an individual permit would result in better protections for public health and the environment, or be more efficient, less burdensome, or less costly.

And it’s important to understand that this preliminary determination concerns a single question regarding the use of a general permit. This is not an opportunity to comment on requirements that should or should not be in the general permit, or on specific facilities unless the information is related to the appropriateness of the general permit approach.

Developing a statewide general permit doesn’t mean that the public would give up its right to engage Ecology on biosolids actions that must be approved individually. Our commitment to transparent, thorough, and impartial public processes would remain intact from start to finish.

Anyone who comments on this preliminary determination will automatically be added to our list of persons interested in development of a biosolids general permit. Interested parties will receive email updates and notices on opportunities to participate in and comment on the development of a biosolids statewide general permit.

-Dave Bennett, Solid Waste Management Program

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