Today is
[Portal ID #1962]

Department of Ecology
Committees, Boards, and Workgroups

Spokane River Clean Water Permitting Process

Clean water requirements for the Spokane River include strict limitations on pollutants like phosphorus and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These limits make permitting wastewater treatment facilities complicated, especially for PCBs because they are widespread, persistent, and found in many products.

Permits for five wastewater treatment facilities that discharge into the Spokane River have been administratively extended and need to be reviewed and reissued to include the new clean water requirements. In November 2016, PCB water quality standards for the Spokane River changed from 170 parts per quadrillion to seven parts per quadrillion.

We're currently working with the river community to evaluate the tools available to reissue the permits and identify the path forward for a clean Spokane River. 

The strategy for issuing new permits to meet requirements for PCBs include:

  • Developing agreements with each facility that outlines milestones and benchmarks for reducing PCBs.
  • Investigating treatment technology and cost information associated with meeting water quality standards.
  • Continuing to identify and reduce sources of PCBs through the Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force.
  • Using a step-by-step approach over time to achieve the highest attainable condition in the river until ultimately meeting water quality standards.

Latest Meetings

Open house on PCB Variances for the Spokane River - April 8 and April 23, 2020

We held two online webinars to provide general information about PCBs and variances, and preliminary information on how we evaluated the variance applications. We also discussed what to expect during the formal public comment period.

Our intent for holding the open houses is to provide transparent and easy to understand information on what a variance from the water quality standards means, and why we are considering PCB variances for the Spokane River.

Workshop on PCB Variances for Spokane River - Nov. 14, 2019

We held a workshop on Nov. 14, 2019, about the next steps in the variance process.  We covered a general overview, updates on the rulemaking process, and the current status of applications.

Spokane River Permitting Tools Workshop #2: Decoding the Variance Process; Monday, November 5, 2018

  • Agenda
  • See Documents at bottom of page for printable versions (Full slides and 3-slides/page, as available) for today's Workshop.

We held a second Permitting Tools Workshop on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018.

This workshop focused on:

  • How to submit a request for a Variance (requires agency rule-making)
  • Details about the submittal package requirements;
  • The projected schedule for the completion of the rule-making process; and,
  • How the variance process affects the permit cycle.

 For more information, contact Karl Rains at (509) 329-3601 or karl.rains@ecy.wa.gov.



  • Develop and finalize agreed orders with permitted wastewater facilities.
  • Explore permitting tools such as the variance and compliance schedules.
  • Evaluate treatment technologies and associated costs.
  • Continue source reduction.
  • Spokane County, Liberty Lake Sewer and Water District, and Kaiser Trentwood next-level treatment online.


  • Prepare for possible rulemaking associated with a variance, which requires Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval.
  • Continue gathering and evaluating required data for permitting tools.
  • Continue source reduction.
  • Develop and approve a plan for Kaiser Trentwood groundwater cleanup.
  • City of Spokane and Inland Empire Paper Co. next-level treatment online (2020).


  • Develop and issue new permits.
  • Continue source reduction.
  • Evaluate progress towards achieving highest attainable condition and meeting water quality standards.


  • Develop and issue new permits
  • Continue source reduction.
  • Evaluate progress towards achieving highest attainable condition and meeting water quality standards.


Past meeting information

Spokane Permitting Workshop, March 14, 2018

Water Quality Permitting Tools Workshop, Aug. 8, 2018

Looking downriver from Islands Lagoon in Spokane Valley


 File NameFile SizeDescriptionCategoryDate Added
Spokane River Permit Tools Workshop #2 - Agenda.pdf 440.1 KB Workshop #2 Agenda
Workshop #2 Agenda
None 11/02/18 01:47 PM
Spokane River Permit Tools Workshop #2 - Jenkins_Full.pdf 876.4 KB
None 11/05/18 10:34 AM
Spokane River Permit Tools Workshop #2 - Niemi_Notes.pdf 1.5 MB
None 11/05/18 10:35 AM
Spokane River Permit Tools Workshop #2 - Niemi_Full.pdf 1.5 MB
None 11/05/18 10:35 AM
Spokane River Permit Tools Workshop #2 - Intro_Full.pdf 549.8 KB
None 11/05/18 10:35 AM
Spokane River Permit Tools Workshop #2 - Conklin_Full.pdf 535.3 KB
None 11/05/18 10:36 AM
Spokane River Permit Tools Workshop #2 - Intro_Notes.pdf 511.3 KB
None 11/05/18 10:36 AM
VarianceWorkshop_All.pdf 3 MB presentation
#NEW_CATEGORY# 11/14/19 08:30 AM
Economic Questions to consider_brand.pdf 210.6 KB
None 11/14/19 08:31 AM
Feb 2022- SpokaneKaiserPermit Webinar_FINAL.pdf 1 MB 2-1-22 Kaiser Permit Hearing PP
2-1-22 Kaiser Permit Hearing PP
None 02/17/22 09:31 AM
Feb 2022-CitySpokaneNPDSPermitReissuanceWebinarFINAL.pdf 1 MB 2-1-22 City Spokane Permit Hearing PP
2-1-22 City Spokane Permit Hearing PP
None 02/17/22 09:32 AM
March_2022_Inland_Empire_Paper_Permit_Presentation.pdf 1.4 MB Inland Empire Paper Presentation
Inland Empire Paper Presentation
None 04/20/22 04:06 PM
April_2022_Liberty_Lake_Permit_Presentation.pdf 774.5 KB Liberty Lake Presentation
Liberty Lake Presentation
None 05/03/22 12:34 PM
April_2022_Spokane_County_Permit_Presentation.pdf 2.4 MB Spokane County Presentation
Spokane County Presentation
None 05/03/22 12:35 PM

Currently loading

Please Wait...