RAPID/Geothermal/Washington/Water Quality

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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Washington Geothermal Water Quality Assessment(14-WA)

Developers may be required to obtain several permits related to water quality issues, including permits for NPDES compliance, underground injection control, 401 quality certification, and wastewater discharge.

Developers must obtain a NPDES Permit from the Washington State Department of Ecology (WSDE) if their project will result in the discharge of pollutants to the waters of Washington from any point source. No pollutants may be discharged to the waters of Washington from any point source, except as authorized by an Individual Permit issued pursuant to WAC 173-220, or as authorized through coverage under a General Permit pursuant to WAC 173-226. A project may qualify for either an Individual NPDES Permit or for a General NPDES Permit. An individual permit is written for a specific discharge at a specific location. An individual permit is highly tailored to regulate the pollutants in the discharge. A general permit is for a group of similar dischargers at diverse locations. Once issued, a general permit may cover many facilities quickly and efficiently. A general permit is appropriate when the characteristics of the discharge are similar and a standard set of permit requirements can effectively provide environmental protection. If the project will involve clearing, grading and/or excavating that will result in the disturbance of one or more acres and discharges stormwater to surface waters, then the developer must obtain a Construction Stormwater General Permit from WSDE. WSDE can also require a construction stormwater permit for any size construction activity discharging storm water into surface waters if the activity is a significant contributor of pollutants to Washington waters, and WSDE reasonably expects that the project will result in a violation of state water quality standards.

Developers must obtain an Underground Injection Control (UIC) Permit or register any underground injection control well necessary for the project. WSDE regulates and permits UIC wells in Washington. The majority of UIC wells are authorized by rule and do not require a formal permit, however, the developer must register the well and comply with Washington’s Non-endangerment Standard. Developers must submit required information to WSDE including a technical description of the well and the injection fluids, a facility description, and the longitude and latitude of the well. If the UIC well does not qualify for authorization by rule the developer will have to contact the WSDE for permitting procedures and applications. When a UIC Permit is required, the developer must also obtain a NPDES Waste Discharge Permit or State Wastewater Discharge Permit. WAC 173-216 or WAC 173-226.

Developers requiring a Section 404 Dredge and Fill Permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are required to obtain a Section 401 Water Quality Certification from WSDE. WSDE will review the project to ensure that it will comply with state water quality standards and other aquatic resource protection requirements. 401 Water Quality Certification can cover both the construction and operation of the proposed project. In Washington, a single application has been developed to streamline the permitting process for a selection of water-related approvals including 401 Water Quality Certification. Developers are required to submit a Joint Aquatic Resource Permit Application (JARPA) and associated documents to WSDE for review.

Developers must obtain a State Wastewater Discharge Permit from WSDE if their facilities will discharge wastewater pollutants to land. Industrial facilities that discharge wastewater to privately or publicly owned wastewater treatment plants must also obtain a State Wastewater Discharge Permit unless it has obtained a pretreatment discharge permit issued by a delegated municipality. The developer’s project may qualify for an exemption from permitting requirements outlined in WAC 173-216-050. Wastewater Discharge Permits must contain conditions that ensure a discharge will meet established water quality standards. Developers are responsible for providing public notice and seeking comments from interested and potentially interested persons. WAC 173-216-090(1).

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Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

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