Recognizing the importance of close coordination and partnership between the department of ecology and municipal treatment plants, the department shall form an advisory committee, appointed by the director of ecology or the director's designee, to create recommendations for adjusting the fee schedule for permits authorized by RCW 90.48.162 and 90.48.165 by rule. The advisory committee must include:
Two representatives of permitted facilities representing communities of 25,000 or fewer in population;
Two representatives of permitted facilities representing communities greater than 25,000 and up to 200,000 in population;
One representative of permitted facilities representing communities greater than 200,000 in population;
Two representatives of nonprofit environmental organizations;
One representative of a statewide association representing cities;
One representative of a statewide association representing counties;
One representative of a statewide association representing special purpose districts with responsibilities for domestic wastewater; and
One representative of a statewide business association.
By December 31, 2022, the advisory committee must submit recommendations to the department of ecology that will identify fees needed to fully recover expenses incurred by the department of ecology to administer municipal wastewater permits issued under RCW 90.48.162 and 90.48.260, as required under RCW 90.48.465(1), to include permit writing and public review, inspections and technical assistance, discharge monitoring reporting and data support, and supporting the overhead expenses related to administering the wastewater discharge permits.
The advisory committee recommendations must:
Assess the municipal wastewater permitting backlogs and permit workloads;
Assess staffing and revenue needed to meet state and federal legal mandates and the needs of permittees; and
Recommend how to structure the permit fees to reduce permitting backlogs and achieve goals for timely issuance of permits under RCW 90.48.162 and 90.48.260.
The department of ecology must use these recommendations as the basis, in a manner consistent with rule-making procedures under chapter 34.05 RCW, for updates in 2023 to the relevant water quality permit fees set in chapter 173-224 WAC. The department of ecology will present the recommendations of the advisory committee to the legislature at some point after the recommendations are available through the 2023 legislative session.
This section expires January 1, 2024.
Beginning in 2025, the department of ecology's biennial progress report required in RCW 90.48.465(7) must include information on the implementation of a revised fee structure for full cost recovery for municipal wastewater discharge permits and the use of the fees to administer the municipal discharge permitting program and issue permits in a timely manner. The biennial report must also include information demonstrating progress towards achieving the goal of reducing the wastewater discharge permit backlog to no more than 40 percent by July 1, 2025, and not more than a 20 percent backlog by July 1, 2027.