ODW Newsletter

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ODW Now March 2024

Printable PDF copy (PDF)

Spring is Here! You Know What That Means!

Six Spring-Cleaning Tips

  • Inspect all facilities.
  • Pumphouse (siding, roof, vents, paint, plants, pests).
  • Well cap and storage tanks free of openings and the vents inverted and screened.
  • Check bladder and hydro-pneumatic tanks.

Organize and clear the clutter.

  • Move spare parts to designated area where you can find them.
  • Every tool has its place—find it!
  • Don’t forget to love your truck. 

Get everyone involved.

  • Many hands make quick work.
  • People tend to care about what they work for.
  • A fresh set of eyes and ideas go a long way.

Tackle seasonal chores.

  • Schedule “fair weather” projects early in the season so delays don’t push you into the cold. 
  • Create a calendar and plan around vacations and neighborhood events. 
  • Think safety first.

Keep chemical products to a minimum.

  • Move pesticides, fuel, herbicides, paints, and solvents far away from your drinking water.
  • Properly dispose of expired reagents and water treatment chemicals.

Establish new habits.

  • Create a maintenance schedule for the whole year to lighten the load in spring and early summer.
  • Consider replacing or rethinking the facilities and equipment you’re “always working on.”
  • Prepare for your Sanitary Survey every year; even if we’re not visiting.

Spring Starts

Are You Ready For Seasonal Start Up Procedures?

With spring’s arrival, water systems serving camps, summer lodges, and other “non-community” connections shut down over the winter also need to prepare to reopen. 

Operators of seasonal water systems, those systems that depressurize water lines at the end of each operating season, should begin their start up procedures at least one month before they plan to serve water to customers. 

Use this time to evaluate the condition of the water system, make repairs, disinfect, and ensure the water system is free of coliform bacteria by collecting an investigative coliform bacteria sample. 

To comply with requirements, each seasonal water system must:

  • Follow a state-approved start-up procedure. The items listed on the certification form (331-560) are satisfactory as system start-up procedures.
  • Send us a signed and dated start-up procedure certification form, declaring that the procedure was followed upon start up and prior to serving water to the public. 
  • Provide the certification form to your nearest regional office

For more information on seasonal water system start-ups, see our publication, Start-up Procedures For Non-Community Water System 331-310 (PDF)

Ecology Reissues Water Treatment General Permit—Comment Period Open

The Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) proposes to reissue the Water Treatment Plant General Permit, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and State Waste Discharge General Permit. This permit provides coverage for Water Treatment Plants (WTPs) that discharge backwash effluent to surface water. Under federal and state water quality laws, a permit is required for discharge of these chemicals. Water treatment plants with filter backwash activities and the discharge of pollutants, must obtain permit authorization for their discharge.

This permit was last issued July 17, 2019, and is scheduled to expire August 31, 2024. The revised draft permit and fact sheet, which explains the technical basis for the permit, is available for review and public comment from March 20, 2024, through May 3, 2024. 

The draft permit and fact sheet will be available on the Ecology website beginning March 20, 2024 (Water Treatment Plant General Permit Webpage). Ecology will hold public workshops to explain the general permit and answer questions prior to the hearings. Workshops and hearings offered via webinar allow individuals to view the presentation and provide testimony via computer, phone, or mobile device.

Register for the Monday, 4/22/24, 9:00 AM webinar.

Register for the Tuesday, 4/23/24, 5:30 PM webinar.

Please submit your feedback on the draft permit documents by May 3, 2024.

Submit comments online via eComment form or by mail to:

James Hovis
WA State Department of Ecology—Water Quality Program
P.O. Box 47696
Olympia, WA  98504-7696

Email: James.Hovis@ecy.wa.gov, or call 564-999-3244.

We’re Electric!

Submitting Documents is as Easy as Sending an Email!

To ensure we receive your correspondence, reports, forms, submittals, and any other information you are trying to get to us, please send it to us by email (under 25 mb). If submitting larger files, you can request a Box.com folder through our administrative staff. Box.com allows you to easily transfer very large files.

Email addresses for each office are below.


Eastern Regional Office

Northwest Regional Office

Southwest Region Office

If you have questions about your water system or a possible project, we encourage you to contact your regional engineer or planner for technical assistance or a pre-submittal meeting.

Drinking Water Advisory Group (DWAG) Next Meeting June 3

We look forward to an informative and interesting meeting June 3, 2024. We would love to see you all there, virtually!

We hold all our meetings through Microsoft Teams video, so you can join our meeting with your computer, laptop, tablet, or phone from wherever you are. We post the Team links and meeting agenda on our DWAG Meeting webpage. After the meeting we post any handouts or presentations and, within a month, we post the meeting notes.

Do you want to receive advance notice of meetings and their agendas? Join our advisory group email list.

Do You have questions about the advisory group or topics you’d like to discuss? Email Brad Burnham with your ideas. 

Reminder: Lead Service Line Inventory Due October 16, 2024

Under the EPA Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR), all community and non-transient non-community (NTNC) Group A public water systems are required to develop and submit a lead service line inventory by October 16, 2024. We will open the online portal to submit inventories soon—check our Lead and Copper Rule Revisions website for details. Additionally, our Lead Service Line Inventory Guidance 331-711 (PDF) helps you develop your inventory and classify system materials. We also talked about the LSLI in past editions of ODW Now (July 2023 and September 2023).

We are now offering FREE technical assistance to help select water systems with Lead Service Line Inventories! 

Our technical assistance provider can help the selected public water systems with:

  • Reviewing construction records, plumbing codes, building permits, water system records, distribution maps, and other historical records to classify installed materials on private and utility owned service lines as either: Lead, Galvanized requiring replacement (GRR), Non-lead, or Lead status unknown.
  • Advising on the process for visually inspecting service lines.
  • Developing a statistical sampling or predictive modeling of unknown service lines.
  • Preparing and submitting inventory using the EPA Service Line Inventory Template.  

To request technical assistance, fill out the Lead Service Line Inventory Technical Assistance Intake Form 331-739 (Word) and email to chelsea.cannard@doh.wa.gov. Assistance is limited and not all systems will receive help.

Open NOW: Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) Lead Service Line Inventory! 

The Lead Service Line Inventory and Replacement loans are available, and we will accept applications through March 29. Information about the loan is available in the 2023 LSL Loan Overview 331-715 (PDF) and in the LSL Loan Worksheet 331-716 (Word). Please note the application cycle dates are incorrect on these two documents—we’ve extended the application period. These two documents help you apply for the loan using Washington Loan Tracker (WALT). Through this loan, you can pay for the lead service line inventory and replacement projects. View the recent lead service line webinar presentation PDF.

Access Technical Assistance through EPA for Lead Service Line Inventory. 

EPA offers technical assistance for a variety of water utility needs, including lead service line identification and replacement. Read more on EPA’s Water Technical Assistance program webpage. Request assistance through EPA’s Water Technical Assistance Request Form. Make sure you outline your need for lead service line inventory assistance in the form.

For questions about Lead Service Line Inventory requirements, contact your regional engineer, or for questions about funding or technical assistance opportunities, email DWSRF@doh.wa.gov.

Alert! Permitting Fees Due! Time is running out!
It’s time to renew your operating permit for community water systems with more than 500 connections and SMAs that own water systems. We mailed your permit renewal Annual Fee Statement at the end of January; it’s due March 15. For instructions on how to pay online visit our Permit Fee webpage. If you need help or have questions, please contact Brian Wilson at brian.wilson@doh.wa.gov or 360-236-3042. 

New Program at Washington Certification Services

For over 40 years, we have partnered with Green River College in administering operator certification program activities. Together we forged an interagency agreement that created Washington Certification Services (WCS). Under the direction of Office of Drinking Water staff, WCS provides comprehensive programs, services, and resources for environmental professionals and continuing education providers. They assist drinking water operators and Backflow Assembly Testers (BAT) in attaining state certification, meeting continuing education requirements, achieving career advancement goals, and protecting the health of Washington’s citizens. Historically WCS has been responsible for: 

  • Administering the State BAT Certification, Professional Growth, and Renewal Programs. 
  • Administering the State Waterworks Operator Professional Growth and Renewal Programs.
  • Providing training evaluation and accreditation services to course sponsors.

Starting January 2024, WCS also provides certification exam application services for new and advancing operator candidates. To accommodate this change, WCS developed a new application platform and portal along with an updated database. We also updated our webpages, instructions, and application guidance documents to ensure a smooth transition. 

We remain responsible for administration of the Waterworks Operator Certification Program and the regulations, policies, and guidelines established for certified waterworks operators. All fees and required information remain the same; but WCS is building on an outstanding legacy of this program and is implementing minor changes to improve the applicant experience. As with any new program there will be a few growing pains and we thank you in advance for your patience as we work to provide excellent service for all Waterworks Operators in Washington. Please visit the WCS webpage for more details, to renew your existing certification, apply for a certification exam, check your professional growth progress, or learn more about the continuing education process. 

Farewell Thoughts

By Dorothy Tibbets, Eastern Regional Manager, Retired

“We work with others to protect the health of the people of Washington State by ensuring safe and reliable drinking water.” This is the mission of the Department of Health Office of Drinking water. In my time as Eastern Regional Office manager, I have come to appreciate all “the others” with whom we work to ensure safe and reliable drinking water: water system operators, managers and volunteers; engineers, consultants, and third-party assistance providers; laboratories, scientists, educators, and local health specialists. 

Without this network of talented individuals working toward a common goal, we could not be successful in assuring safe drinking water for communities across the state.

As I reflect on my time at ODW, I learned that one of the most important things is to be curious and have a problem-solving attitude. Whether it’s navigating regulatory requirements, responding to an emergency, or planning for the future: I found my own work to be most successful when I am curious and when I reach out to others who can help me understand the problem and work toward a solution. Talk to your drinking water partners. 

Reach out to others and ask, what are my options? Who should I talk to who can help me plan next steps? What should I know about regulations and best practices that will assure the best outcome? Am I overlooking anything, and am I on the right path? 

Our office staff can help guide you on a path to success, whether it’s solving a technical problem, public relations, or compliance with state and federal regulations. Your colleagues and other partners are also excellent sources of information and guidance. Reach out to operators of neighboring systems or systems like yours; find experienced people who have been in your shoes. Get involved in professional organizations, such as the local chapter of the AWWA. And if you yourself have some years of experience, make yourself available to provide support, offer ideas, and pass on what you know to individuals new to the field.

We have so many challenges ahead, there’s no need to go it alone. Whether facing technical challenges, limited financial or personnel resources, or unhappy customers, you are not alone, we are all here to help. 

Looking back, our greatest successes have been when we all work together, contribute our unique knowledge and experience, and strive diligently and patiently to protect the health of the people of Washington State by ensuring safe and reliable drinking water. 

Climate Resiliency Element Rulemaking 

We began rulemaking in coordination with the Washington State Board of Health for Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1181, which requires a new Climate Resiliency Element in Water System Plans. The Legislature passed the bill in 2023 and water systems that are required to submit a water system plan under WAC 246-290-100 must include the new element in plans initiated after June 30, 2025. 

In addition to the rulemaking, we started developing guidance for the new element and we’re working with the University of Washington’s Climate Impact Group to provide water systems with tools and data to complete the new element. 

A public hearing is scheduled for April 4, 2024, at 3:30 p.m. You can join virtually or in-person at our Tumwater office. For those who wish to attend virtually, register with Zoom before the hearing. For more information about the public hearing and the proposed rule language, please visit our Water System Planning Requirements Rule Change webpage.

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Note: The documents on this page were published on the dates specified. The internet links and other resources cited in the document were current as of those dates.