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Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

1120 SW 5th Avenue, Room 1000, Portland, OR 97204

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Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit Fee Changes Proposed


For more detail on how the fee for your business would be assessed, please contact Dan Parnell, Industrial Permitting Manager, 503-823-7568.

Starting July 1, 2017, Environmental Services proposes to begin using a new methodology for assessing industrial wastewater discharge permit fees within the Industrial Pretreatment Program. The program ensures industrial pollutants do not:

  • Interfere with the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant,
  • Pass through to the Columbia River,
  • Impact biosolids reuse,
  • Threaten public health/worker safety, or
  • Violate local and federal pollutant limits.

Download fact sheet of frequently asked questionsHow will Environmental Services assess industrial permit fee charges?

The proposed methodology for program cost recovery will:

  • More accurately assess the costs to manage permits,
  • Ensure each permitted industry pays for its share of the pretreatment program,
  • Reduce volatility of permit-fee changes from year-to-year for customers, and
  • Recover 50 percent of the City’s administrative costs for monitoring and conducting enforcement.

Why is Environmental Services changing the way it assesses industrial fees?

Over the past two years, the pretreatment program has made significant changes in its approach to regulating permitted industries. Current methodology no longer captures the program’s costs to administer permits, nor does it accurately assess and charge industries based on the risk they pose to Portland’s Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant—a publicly-owned asset worth approximately $1 billion.

In addition, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) charges the City an annual fee of $637 for each permitted categorical and significant industrial user. The current methodology does not include that cost, and in 2016, the City paid a total of $48,412 to DEQ for permitted industrial users.

What is the proposed permit methodology?

The current system would be replaced with an equation for program cost recovery that consists of the following components:

  • BASE FEE—This fee will be based on permit type: Categorical Industrial User, Significant Industrial User, Non-Significant Industrial User, or Non-Discharging Categorical Industrial User.
  • COMPLIANCE MONITORING COSTS—These are the actual costs for Environmental Services staff to sample and analyze an industrial user’s wastewater for permit compliance.
  • ENFORCEMENT COSTS—This fee will be based on Environmental Services’ costs to administer each enforcement action.
  • DEQ-PERMIT FEE (if applicable)—The annual DEQ-permit fee will be added for categorical and significant industrial users.

Will my permit fees increase?

For some customers, the proposed methodology may result in decreased permit fees. For others, fees may increase. 

Why is my permit fee increasing?

The proposed methodology was developed to more accurately assess the City’s costs to manage permits and ensure that each permitted industry pays for its share of the pretreatment program. In the past, some industries were undercharged because of the methodology used to calculate fees. The proposed methodology is more accurate and is designed to recover 50 percent of the City’s administrative costs for monitoring and conducting enforcement.

Additionally, for each permitted categorical and significant industrial user, the new methodology
will include an annual DEQ-Permit Fee. Currently, that fee is $637.

Will my permit fee change again next year?

Yes. The base fee will change each year. Compliance monitoring costs should remain consistent during an industry’s 5-year permit cycle. Enforcement costs will depend on each permittee’s compliance history in the previous year. Fewer violations could mean lower costs.

The City conducts extra strength sampling at my business each month. Will those costs be part of my permit fee?

No. Sampling for permit monitoring is separate from extra strength sampling and tests for different things. Both may be happening at your business, but permit fees will apply only to the permit monitoring sampling.

When will the permit fees change?

New permit fees would take effect July 1, 2017.

When will my business be billed?

Billing could begin in August 2017.



Updated: April 26, 2017