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Regulatory Handbook -> Water Quality Permits -> Drinking Water Operating Permit

Drinking Water Operating Permit

What is the Purpose of this Permit?
Drinking Water Operating Permits are required for Group A public water systems. These are systems that either have 15 or more services or serve an average of 25 or more people a day for 60 or more days in a calendar year. Completed applications, generated by Department of Health (DOH) computers using information provided within the Water Systems Inventory, are mailed to system owners. Owners must sign and return these applications along with the permit fee within 70 days. After receiving the signed application and fee, DOH issues a permit that is categorized to signify system adequacy.
    A red permit means that the system is inadequate for existing uses and for additional service connections and a county should not issue subdivision approval or building permits to property served by the system.

    A green permit means the system is adequate.

    A yellow permit indicates that the system is adequate for existing uses and new service connections up to the number of approved service connections unless otherwise limited by a compliance agreement.

    A blue permit indicates that the system is adequate for existing uses but not for new service connections.
The color is assigned based on evaluation of system performance against State Board of Health Drinking Water regulations On average, permits are issued 60 days after DOH receives a signed application and fee; state law requires a decision within 120 days.
Who Issues this Permit?
Department of Health
What Activities Require this Permit?
Operating a public water system that has 15 or more services or serves more than 25 people a day for more than 60 days a year.
How Much Will this Permit Cost?
Variable based on the number of service connections. Please contact DOH.
Do I Need to Include Anything with my Application?
All fees that apply along with your signed and dated application.
Is the Decision on my Permit Dependent on Anything Besides the Information in my Application?
The decision about how your permit is categorized is based on information on file with DOH regarding compliance with applicable drinking water requirements.
How Long Will it Take to Review my Application?
Within 60 days of receipt of complete application and all required fees.
Where do I Submit my Application?
Department of Health
PO Box 1099
Olympia WA 98507-1099
How Long is my Permit Valid?
Normally one year from the time it was issued.
What is the Appeal Process for the Permit?
Appealable under Chapter 34.05 RCW if the Department denies, conditions, modifies, or revokes a permit.
Notes / Comments:
Contact the Office of Drinking Water Regional Office in your area if you have questions about annual operating permits. Spokane (509) 329-2100, Kent (253) 395-6750, Olympia (360) 236-3030.
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:

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: 1
Maximum number of days from Receipt to Complete: 1

Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Issue a Permit Decision (Definition)
Average number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 1
Maximum number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 1

(Summary results based on 3707 submittals in 2020)

Where can I get permitting assistance?
Helpdesk phone: Tumwater: (360) 236-3030; Kent: (253) 395-6750; Spokane Valley: (509) 329-2100; or (800) 525-0127 or TTY users dial 711
Statewide Contact:
Department of Health
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
* Permit information last updated 6/16/2020
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