Water Quality Billing Frequently Asked Questions

Questions

Why am I receiving a bill?

Alaska regulations 18 AAC 72.956, 18 AAC 72.957, and 18 AAC 72.959 describe fees for discharge of waste and wastewater. These fees cover average cost of permit issuance and permit maintenance.

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Who should I contact if I have a question about my permit fees?

Questions about payment, e.g. whether a payment was received, should be directed to DEC Accounts Receivable by email at DEC.ADEC.Userfees@alaska.gov, or by telephone at (907) 465-5089.

Questions about permit fee categories or fee amounts should be directed to Robert Doremus at (907) 465-5137 or email: water.billing.help@alaska.gov.

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What if I don't see my discharge type in the fee tables?

The fees for wastewater discharges under 18 AAC 72 were amended on December 23, 2009 and the fee tables at http://dec.alaska.gov/water/wwdp/online_permitting/fees.htm show the current fees for each category of discharges. If your discharge type is not included in the appropriate table, the discharge is subject to an hourly or negotiated fee as described in 18 AAC 72.959. DEC encourages permittees to accept a negotiated fee for discharges that occur at only a small number of facilities in the state. However, you may request an hourly fee that reflects the actual time DEC permit and compliance and enforcement staff spend to issue and maintain your permit.

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How are "hourly" and "negotiated" fees calculated?

A permittee may choose to be billed for the hours of DEC staff work to issue an individual permit and for compliance after the permit is issued. Staff time will be tracked and the billing will reflect the actual number of hours worked on the permit. Alternatively, a permittee may choose a negotiated fee that is based on DEC's actual costs to issue a permit plus the calculated costs of permit maintenance over the life of the permit. DEC will propose an annual flat fee to cover all DEC costs for the permit.

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Why did my fee change?

Alaska Statute 37.10.052 requires that resource agency fees not exceed the estimated reasonable direct cost of providing regulatory service. DEC periodically reviews the list of fixed fees to identify any changes in the average actual and direct cost of providing each regulatory service and may adjust fees by amending the regulations. As a result of the most recent review and adjustment, some fees increased or decreased, while others were restructured as hourly or negotiated fees.

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If I pay a fee does that mean I am covered by a permit?

Not necessarily. It is your responsibility to understand the terms of your permit, including the expiration date, and to work with your DEC permitter to assure continued coverage.

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My invoice has two contacts listed, one for disputes about billing amounts, and the other for payment questions. What is the difference between the two?

General questions on the billing process or reason you are receiving an invoice or statement should be directed to Robert Doremus at (907) 465-5137 or email: water.billing.help@alaska.gov.

Questions on how to pay your bill should be directed to DEC Accounts Receivable at (907) 465-5089 or email dec.adec.userfees@alaska.gov.

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How can I appeal the permit fee if I believe I was overcharged?

You may request a fee review by the Director of the Division of Water. A request for a fee review must be made within 30 days after you receive the fee invoice. Requests must be in writing, but can be made by mail, e-mail or facsimile. More information about the fee review process is located on the DEC Commissioner's Office webpage at http://dec.alaska.gov/commish/fee-reviews.htm. You may use the form located at http://dec.alaska.gov/commish/documents/Fee%20review.pdf to request a fee review.

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My business was sold last year and I continue to receive invoices for my WQ permit. What should I do to ensure invoices go to the new owner?

DEC provides the procedures for transferring a permit in the permit Part named "Transfer of Ownership" or "Transfers." APDES permits require the permittee to notify DEC in advance of a transfer of ownership. APDES regulations also require that a written agreement containing a specific date for transfer of permit responsibility, coverage, and liability between the current and new permittee be provided to DEC prior to the transfer of ownership. Provide the documents required in your permit to the permit writer 30 days in advance of the proposed transfer of ownership. DEC will make the changes necessary to redirect invoices to the new owner.

If your permit was issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and authority for the permit has not been transferred to DEC under NPDES Primacy, follow EPA's instructions for the transfer of the permit to a new owner and provide copies of the documents to Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Wastewater Discharge Authorization Program, 555 Cordova Street, Anchorage, AK, 99501-2617.

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I received an invoice, but I have not received a permit. Why am I receiving a bill for something I do not have?

You will receive an invoice if you are discharging. If you are not discharging and your permit has not yet been issued or reissued, your invoice may have been issued in error. Please contact Robert Doremus at (907) 465-5137 or email: water.billing.help@alaska.gov. Provide the permit number and invoice number and we will research the issue. If you received the invoice in error we will credit the invoice amount or refund the payment if you have already paid.

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Do I receive a reduction in my fee if my facility is not operating?

No. The fee reduction for non-operating facilities was repealed on December 23, 2009.

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My company employs 20 or fewer employees; do I need to send documentation to verify this? Where can I find my reduced cost?

A Certificate of Number of People Employed by a business is needed for documentation before a facility may receive a reduction in the fee. The form can be found at http://dec.alaska.gov/water/wwdp/online_permitting/fee_reductions.htm. Complete, sign, and send the form to the Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Water Admin Information, 410 Willoughby Avenue, Suite 303, PO Box 111800, Juneau, AK 99801 or fax to (907) 465-5097.

The reduction amount for different permit types can be found on page two of the Certificate of Number of Employees form.

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My facility is owned by a municipality or other government agency. Does the 20 or fewer reduction apply?

No. The reduction is only for "facilities owned by businesses with 20 or fewer employees," not governmental organizations.

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I paid my fee and then realized that I was entitled to a reduction for 20 or fewer employees. Can I submit the DEC form and receive a refund for the extra amount I paid?

Yes. Contact Robert Doremus at (907) 465-5137 or email: water.billing.help@alaska.gov to receive your refund.

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Are schools required to pay fees for wastewater discharge permits?

No. The Alaska Lesgislature exempted schools from fees for inspection, permit preparation and administration, plan review and approval, or certain other services provided by DEC. Under Alaska Statute 44.46.0259(d). "school" means a public or private school for children of school age, or a head start center that recieves federal financial assistance under defined law.

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Will DEC allow for extensions on payments and/or payment plans?

Yes. For assistance in setting up a payment plan, contact Robert Doremus at (907) 465-5137 or email: water.billing.help@alaska.gov.

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I received an invoice in the mail but am in negotiations to sell my facility. Am I still responsible for paying the fee?

Yes, until transfer is final and ownership is final. The fee is the responsibility of the current owner. After ownership of a facility has transferred to a new owner and the written transfer agreement submitted to DEC, the responsibility to pay the permit fee will shift to the new owner.

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Is there a procedure for declining my mixing zone for my placer mining operation? What is the fee associated with this?

For information on declining a mixing zone authorization for a placer mining operation and the ramifications of declining a mixing zone authorization, contact Nick Dallman at (907) 451-2142 or email: nick.dallman@alaska.gov. Currently, there is no fee for a placer mining operation without a mixing zone authorization.

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My facility's discharge volume is in a different fee category from the fee on my invoice from DEC. How can I get the fee category corrected and my invoice adjusted for the difference?

To correct an error on your invoice, please contact Robert Doremus at (907) 465-5137 or email: water.billing.help@alaska.gov. For a quicker response, be prepared to provide your permit number and the invoice number. DEC will adjust the account if there was a billing error.

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What month are the annual invoices mailed and when is payment due to DEC?

The invoices are typically mailed in November or December for the following calendar year. Payment is due no later than 30 days from the invoice issuance date.

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If my payment is overdue, is there a late fee assessed?

Yes. A late fee of $12 is charged for each month that the payment is late.

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The permit number on my invoice does not match the number on the permit I received from EPA or DEC.

Because of differences in data systems, the permit number in the billing system may require abbreviation. If the numbers appear entirely different, contact Robert Doremus at (907) 465-5137 or email: water.billing.help@alaska.gov to determine which number is correct.

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My fishing vessel does all of its processing outside of Alaska waters (more than three miles from shore). Do I have to pay a wastewater discharge authorization fee?

EPA issues authorizations for seafood processing discharges under the General Permit for Offshore Seafood Processors in Alaska (AKG52000), effective March 1, 2010 to February 28, 2015. Information about EPA's general permit is located on EPA's permitting website: http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/WATER.NSF/NPDES+Permits/General+NPDES+Permits

If a fishing vessel enters Alaskan waters and discharges any wastewater including, for example, gray water or washdown water while off-loading in port, the discharge requires an authorization from DEC. Please contact Clynda Case at (907) 269-7561 or email clynda.case@alaska.gov for more information.

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