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Regulatory Handbook -> Water Quality Permits -> Water System Construction and Operation Approval

Water System Construction and Operation Approval

What is the Purpose of this Approval?
To obtain Department of Health (DOH) approval of:
  • An existing public water system.
  • A proposed extension of an existing public water system.
  • A proposed new public water system.
The Department of Health has review and approval authority over water system plans, project reports, and construction documents for new public drinking water systems and alterations or additions to existing systems for both Group A and Group B public water systems. In many counties, the local health department may do the review and approval for the smaller Group B systems.

A public water system is defined in statute as any system furnishing water for human consumption, excluding a system serving a single family home. Approvals for water supplies serving single-family residences are not required by the state. A system with four or fewer connections all of which serve residences on the same farm is likewise excluded from the definition of a public water system.

Public water systems are further categorized as either Group A or Group B. Group A systems serve 15 or more service connections, or 25 or more people for more than 60 days a year. Group B systems are those that do not meet the Group A definition, such as a system that serves 14 or fewer services and less than 25 people or more than 25 people but for fewer than 60 days a year. Generally, Group B systems serving two or fewer connections are exempt from regulation.
Who Issues this Approval?
Department of Health
What Activities Require this Approval?
Providing water through pipes or other conveyances to one or more commercial connections or two or more residential service connections where people have access to use the water.
How Much Will this Approval Cost?
It varies. Fees vary depending on the size of the water system and project type.
Do I Need to Include Anything with my Application?
Requirements for project and planning documents vary by water system type and size. Contact the regional DOH Office of Drinking Water that has jurisdiction.
Is the Decision on my Approval Dependent on Anything Besides the Information in my Application?
Generally, the answer is no. However, review by Ecology of the water resource availability and impact (see Ecology coordination reference below) may result in delay or an inability for the Department of Health to approve the submittal.
How Long Will it Take to Review my Application?
Generally 90 days for the initial review of a Water System Plan and 30 days for initial review of a project that does not require a planning document. If resubmittals are needed, this adds to the review time.
Where do I Submit my Application?
Applications should be submitted to the regional DOH Office of Drinking Water that has jurisdiction.
How Long is my Approval Valid?
It varies. Planning document approval is generally valid for up to six (6) years. Engineering document approval is valid up to two (2) years, with an opportunity for extension.
What is the Appeal Process for the Approval?
In most cases, applicants may file a request for adjudicative or brief adjudicative proceeding to the Department of Health after submitting required documentation. Applicants should contact the regional DOH Office of Drinking Water that has jurisdiction.
Notes / Comments:
The application is available from the regional DOH Office of Drinking Water that has jurisdiction.

For Group A systems, the three part approval process begins with submittal of a comprehensive water system plan or small water system management program that outlines in general the proposed construction prospects and water use to DOH for review. This is followed by submittal of project justification and construction documents prepared by a professional engineer. Upon project completion, a professional engineer associated with the project signs a document certifying that the project was constructed according to state-approved plans and designs.

For Group B systems, the approval process begins with submittal of design and construction documents, along with information on the proposed system's management and operation to the Department of Health or to the local health department if the local health department has accepted regulatory responsibility for Group B water systems. Design and construction documents submitted to the Department of Health must be prepared by a professional engineer. Upon project completion, the professional engineer associated with the project signs a document certifying that the project was constructed according to a state-approved design.

DOH's Drinking Water Program coordinates review and approval of planning and engineering documents with the Department of Ecology's Water Resources Program.
Permit Timeliness Results

Permit Timeliness data collection is in response to a State Auditor’s Performance Audit and RCW 43.42A. Each regulatory agency developed a plan to improve permit clarity, predictability, and timeliness. Each agency considers the customers experience to ensure permit assistance is simple to use, easy to access, and designed in a customer-friendly manner. Agencies report progress to the Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance (ORIA). ORIA prepares and distributes reports, with participation from the State Auditor’s Office and Results Washington. See latest report here: https://www.oria.wa.gov/ORIA-2018-PermitTimelinessProgressReport.pdf.

All permits submitted for reporting were entered into this Regulatory Handbook. Here are the results of the performance data:

Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Process a Permit Application (Definition)
Average number of days from Receipt to Complete: Unable to report agency Permit Timeliness results
Maximum number of days from Receipt to Complete: Unable to report agency Permit Timeliness results

Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Issue a Permit Decision (Definition)
Average number of days from Complete Application to Decision: Unable to report agency Permit Timeliness results
Maximum number of days from Complete Application to Decision: Unable to report agency Permit Timeliness results

Statewide Contact:
Department of Health
Headquarters
Office of Drinking Water
243 Israel Road SE, 2nd Floor
PO Box 47822
Olympia, WA 98504-7822
Telephone: (360) 236-3100
Toll Free: 1-800-521-0323
Fax: (360) 236-2253
Website: http://www.doh.wa.gov/
* Permit information last updated 2/25/2019
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