PORTLAND - The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality wants to increase the cost of water quality permit fees 3 percent to address program cost increases. The DEQ will hold a public hearing on the matter Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m. at the agency's headquarters in Portland, 811 S.W. Sixth St., Room EQC-A.

The proposal calls for a 3 percent increase for all national pollutant discharge elimination system permits, water pollution control facilities permits and WPCF-onsite septic system permits. The fee increase would not affect suction dredge permits.

State law allows the DEQ to request up to a 3 percent fee increase each year. In a news release, the watchdog agency said if it keeps staffing levels constant, it anticipates a 3.62 percent increase in program costs from 2008-09 to 2009-10. The DEQ will ask its oversight body, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission, to allow the increase. If the EQC approves the request, the new fees would go into effect July 1.

The proposal is available for public review on the DEQ's Web site at http://www.deq.state.or.us/wq/wqpermit/permits.htm. For more information, including on sending written comments, contact Chris Clipper, Oregon, DEQ Water Quality Division, at (503) 229-6037, or send e-mail to wqfeerule@deq.state.or.us. The DEQ will accept written comments until 5 p.m. Monday, March 2.

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