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Wastewater Permits and Manuals

Sewer Construction or Repair

If you work on your own private plumbing or side sewer projects, you need a City of Tacoma permit for City inspectors to ensure your project is built to proper standards. For more information regarding private side sewers and to access the Side Sewer Availability Manual click here.

Pumping or side sewer work done in the City right-of-way must be done by a contractor licensed and bonded to work in the city of Tacoma. You may find them listed in telephone directories under Sewer Contractors or visit the Labor and Industries website to learn more about hiring a contractor.

Get your permit at:

Planning and Development Services
747 Market Street
Room 345 - Third Floor
Tacoma, WA 98402
Monday through Friday, 9 AM - 3 PM
For more information about permits, please call (253) 591-5030 or visit GeoHub.

Special Approved Discharges to Wastewater System

To discharge any additional or short-term waste into the wastewater system, you must have a Special Approved Discharge Permit.


Submit applications and fees at least 30 days before your requested discharge date.  Fees are based on the amount and the strength of the discharged wastewater as well as a fixed administrative fee of $200-$650.  Some exceptions apply.

Sampling may be required to ensure the discharges comply with water quality requirements.  We all have to do our part to keep pollutants out of our environment.  Read our fish-friendly tips.

For more information about Special Approved Discharge Permits, fees and regulations, call (253) 591-5588.


Current Special Approved Discharges

Address or Project Date Issued Permit Number View Permit
SR167/I-5 to 509, Fife
October 3, 2023 
SAD Permit 23-005
View the permit 
Pacific Hwy E, Fife January 29, 2024 SAD Permit 24-001
View the permit
Hood Street (S. 21 St.-S. 25th) February 12, 2024 
SAD Permit 24-002
View the permit
2041 Marc Avenue March 6, 2024 SAD Permit 24-003 View the permit


Business Programs and Services

The City of Tacoma literally grew up from the waterfront - with downtown businesses helping Tacoma grow to what it is today. However, all those years of industry and progress were harmful to the Thea Foss Waterway and Commencement Bay. Today, the City of Tacoma wants to work with local businesses to ensure that we are creating new ways of working together to succeed in both the environmental and economic aspects of business.


Commercial Sewer Conservation Loan

If your business needs to install equipment to keep pollutants out of the sewer system, we might be able to help you pay for it.

The City offers low-interest loans to qualified business owners for up to 90 percent of the estimated cost for industrial pretreatment equipment, grease interceptors, oil/water separators or almost any business-related equipment necessary to keep pollutants out of the sewer system.

The commercial sewer conservation loan program features an interest rate at two percent below the prime rate (with a minimum of four percent) on amounts between $10,000 and $100,000.


Eligibility Requirements

  • Your commercial or industrial building must be located in the City of Tacoma and served by Tacoma Wastewater Management.  Check your utility bill if you are unsure.

  • Your pollution prevention equipment or repair must be for an existing commercial structure.  New construction or replacement projects already completed are not eligible.

  • Your business must have good credit.

If you have questions about your eligibility, please call us at (253) 591-5588 to find out if you qualify.

To apply:

  1. Determine cost of project and loan amount
  2. Download the loan application packet (PDF)
  3. Complete the application, making sure to fill in all the required information
  4. Send the completed application to:
Community Development Corporation
Attention: Conservation Loans 
P.O. Box 11349 
Tacoma, WA 98411-0349
Fax: (253) 798-3999

For more information about the loan program, please call (253) 798-7038.

Pretreatment Program

Not all wastewater is created equal. Industrial wastewater is one of the biggest sources of wastewater system contamination. Pretreatment is the process of removing harmful pollutants from the water before it reaches our wastewater system.

Pretreatment has many benefits:

  • Keeps harmful pollutants out of the wastewater system
  • Protects the people who work with or near wastewater
  • Prevents costly damage to wastewater treatment plants
  • Increase the chances of being able to recycle and reclaim industrial wastewater into products such as TAGRO

These benefits are why the City of Tacoma began an Industrial Pretreatment Program years before the Washington State Department of Ecology began requiring one.

Through the Industrial Pretreatment Program, the City of Tacoma:

  • Inspects
  • Monitors
  • Issues wastewater discharge permits
  • Provides environmentally safe alternatives, such as the mobile washing certification program

Since its inception, the pretreatment program has reduced wastewater pollutants, such as arsenic, copper, lead and zinc, by 50 to 99 percent before they enter the City wastewater system.  Some of these toxic metals have even dropped below the detection limit. The program also applies to businesses outside of Tacoma, where wastewater flows into Tacoma's wastewater system, including Fife, Ruston, Fircrest and some parts of Federal Way and Pierce County.


To find out more about how your business can comply with the pretreatment program, call (253) 591-5588.


For more information, view the 2022 Industrial Pretreatment Program Annual Report or the 2023 Master Business List (.pdf) or 2023 Master Business List (.xls).


Industrial User Survey

As part of our Source Control program, the City of Tacoma is required to survey business customers that discharge wastewater to our sewer system. Tacoma Municipal Code TMC 12.08.140 (A) requires all non-domestic (other than residential) users to complete and submit this User Survey. The purpose of the survey is to determine if they meet the criteria for significant industrial users (SIU), as defined in TMC 12.08.010 by identifying discharges that may be subject to additional requirements or that may cause a problem for our collection system and/or treatment works.
User Survey

Dental User Survey

Food Services User Survey

Please download and complete the user survey and return an original signed copy to:
User Survey
City of Tacoma
2201 E Portland Ave.
Tacoma, WA 98421
If you have questions or need assistance in completing the form, please call Shawn Madison at (253) 502-2120 or send an email.

If, after review of the user survey, the City of Tacoma’s Source Control staff determines that an industrial permit application is needed, you can download the document:
Industrial Wastewater Permit Application


Business Inspections

The City of Tacoma has inspectors that inspect more than 200 businesses a year as part of the City's industrial pretreatment program.  These inspections, half of which are unannounced, are designed to help businesses comply with pretreatment guidelines.

During a typical three-hour inspection, inspectors will do the following:

  • Visit loading, storage and process areas
  • Observe the facility in action
  • Examine records
  • Sample and test waste streams
  • Check area storm drains - which empty directly into streams, lakes, and bays - for signs of pollution

If the wastewater quality inspectors find something out of compliance with the pretreatment guidelines, they made recommendations for how to correct the problem and offer technical support. The inspectors work with the businesses to address the problems and assist in any needed areas.

Surface Water employees respond to a variety of wastewater drainage complaints for industrial, commercial, construction and residential sites.  Most of these complaints are resolved through a site visit, but sometimes enforcement action must be taken through the Chapter 12.08 drainage ordinance.

When the City drainage ordinance is violated, the City has the authority to enforce the ordinance and control the source of pollution. If the business is permitted by the Washington State Department of Ecology, the City informs them of any violations. The state is responsible for enforcing industrial National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit violations.

If you have a question about industrial inspections, call (253) 591-5588.  To report illegal dumping call (253) 383-2429.

Certified Mobile Washers

Mobile washing companies clean business vehicles on-site.  If you hire a mobile washing company to clean your vehicles, make sure the company has been certified by the City of Tacoma.  Regardless of who washes your vehicles, you are responsible for the wash water on your property.

We certify and inspect mobile washing companies to make sure they keep dirty, soapy water out of the storm drain system - and our lakes, streams and bay.

Do you have a mobile washing company? Get certified by the City of Tacoma by calling (253) 591-5588.