Water Quality Compliance Specialist (Environmental Specialist 4)

Washington Department of Ecology

Union Gap, WA, USA 🇺🇸

Per Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 21-14.2 (Download PDF reader), Washington State employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. As a condition of employment, the successful candidate will be required to provide proof of their COVID-19 Vaccination as part of the hire process, prior to their start date. Requests for medical and religious exemptions will be considered. If you have questions, please contact [email protected] with “COVID-19 Vaccination” in the subject line.  

Keeping Washington Clean and Evergreen
The Water Quality Program within the Department of Ecology is looking to fill a Water Quality Compliance Specialist position. This position is located in our Central Regional Office in Union Gap, WA.
In this role, you will work closely with owners and operators of municipal and industrial treatment facilities located in Ecology’s Central Region. We work with scientists and engineers, developers, local government officials and staff, and the public to ensure that these facilities are properly designed, built, operated, and maintained to protect and improve water quality throughout the Central Region. Joining our team means you will be a key partner in our collective efforts to protect our precious waterways.
Your position will be to serve as the permit and compliance specialist within a team of 11 water quality specialists in the Central Region. You will assist our staff and our permittees in interpreting and maintaining compliance with the state’s water quality regulations and permit requirements. This work will include investigation compliance concerns and making thoughtful recommendations for appropriate corrective actions. You will ensure that our enforcement actions are developed and carried out with the purpose of educating and improving behavior, while being mindful of the impacts to our regulated communities.

As our section’s specialist, you’ll collaborate with your fellow team members, peers in other regions, managers, communications staff, and assistant attorney general to ensure that our compliance and enforcement actions meet agency and program policies and procedures. You will also identify areas of improvement to processes and procedures, engaging with counterparts across the state on continuous improvement.

The mission of the Water Quality Program is to protect and restore Washington’s waters to support healthy watersheds and communities. Our work ensures state waters can support beneficial uses including recreational and business activities, supplies for clean drinking water, and the protection of fish, shellfish, wildlife, and public health. 

Protecting Washington State’s environment for current and future generations is what we do every day at Ecology. We are a culture that is invested in making a difference. Join a team that is highly effective and collaborative, with leadership that embrace the value of people.
Ecology cares deeply about employee wellness; we go beyond traditional benefits, proudly offering:

  • A healthy life/work balance by offering flexible schedules and telework options for most positions.
  • An Infants at Work Program that is based on the long-term health values of infant-parent bonding and breastfeeding newborns.
  • Continuous growth and development opportunities. 
  • A wellness program that offers education, fitness classes, and an agency-wide fondness for outdoor meetings.
  • Opportunities to serve your community and make an impact through meaningful work.

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and respect (DEIR) are core values central to Ecology’s work. We strive to be a workplace where we are esteemed for sharing our authentic identities, while advancing our individual professional goals and collaborating to protect, preserve, and enhance the environment for current and future generations.
Diversity: We celebrate and appreciate diversity; our unique perspectives and abilities enrich us all and lead to innovative approaches and solutions. Equity: We champion equity, recognizing that each of us need different things to thrive. Inclusion: We intentionally create and hold space so that we all have meaningful opportunities to participate and contribute to Ecology’s work. Respect: We treat each other with respect and dignity, acknowledging the inherent worth of our diverse perspectives and lived experiences, even in times of uncertainty and disagreement. 
We believe that DEIR is both a goal and an action. We are on a journey, honoring our shared humanity and taking steps to demonstrate our commitment to a vision where each of us is heard, seen, and valued. 

During Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery, employees are working a combination of in-office and/or telework based on position and business need. Ecology is following current state guidance regarding building occupancy, mask requirements, health screening questions before entry, and social distancing. 
Application Timeline: This position will remain open until filled, with an initial screening date of December 13, 2021. In order to be considered for initial screening, please submit an application on or before December 12, 2021. The agency reserves the right to make an appointment any time after the initial screening date.  Duties

What makes this role unique? In this position, you’ll have the opportunity to work on permits and be involved with the entire regulatory process, from permit development and review, through issuance, implementation and oversight in the field. As our lead for corrective actions and enforcement work, you will often serve as the point of contact for the Water Quality Program and be the face of the agency. You will build trust and confidence with the regulated community through honest, reliable, and consistent interactions over time. You’ll routinely collaborate with facility owners and operators on a variety of compliance concerns and questions, and be our go-to representative for making sure that all parties understand the agency’s expectation for compliance.

What you’ll do:

You will be the Central Region’s specialist for water quality compliance and enforcement. You will be the lead for highly complex or controversial compliance and enforcement actions throughout the region. You will:

  • Independently plan and conduct investigations into fraudulent activities, including laboratory fraud, report falsification, and other unlawful activities.
  • Prepare regulatory documents including warning letters, notices of violations, administrative orders, and penalty assessments.  
  • Develop and update compliance and enforcement processes, procedures, and rules.
  • Review and assess reports associated with violations of permit conditions, including effluent limit violations, overflows, bypasses, floods, mechanical break-downs, and operator errors.
  • Provide technical assistance and education to achieve compliance.
  • Conduct and document both scheduled and unscheduled inspections of permitted facilities.
  • Inspect wastewater treatment facilities to ensure they meet water quality requirements.
  • Review permit applications, prepare draft permits and fact sheets within the technical unit internal and external review process, respond to both permitted entity and public comments, assist in developing final permits for issuance, and train other staff on compliance and enforcement processes.
  • Explain permit requirements to facility managers, owners, and consultants.
  • Build relationships with other employees, federal agencies, and the general public in order to collectively improve compliance with water quality standards.
  • Help facilities find alternatives and other strategies for complying with permit requirements.
  • Assist the Agency and the Attorney General Office on appeals of enforcement, and testify as an expert witness in legal proceedings before the Pollution Control Hearings Board and courts of the State.


Required Qualifications:
Experience for both required and desired qualifications can be gained through various combinations of formal professional employment, educational, volunteer and lived-experience. See below for how you may qualify.
Option 1

Nine (9) years of education and/ or experience:

  • Education: involving major study in environmental, physical, or one of the natural sciences, environmental planning or other allied field.
  • Experience: in environmental analysis or control, or environmental planning.

Experience may include a combination of the following:

  • Conducting environmental field inspections relating to environmental regulations, including follow-up inspections, to ensure corrective actions are implemented.
  • Responding to and investigating complex or highly technical environmental complaints or violations.
  • Coordinating environmental enforcement priorities, and scheduling and assisting in negotiating agreements/settlements.
  • Preparing documents for final permit evaluation and inspection reports for approval.
  • Planning, developing, or researching technical data collection, and interpreting information for others.
  • Providing technical and scientific recommendations regarding the development, coordination, and implementation of environmental technical assistance programs involving pollution prevention, and pollution control.
  • Planning, facilitating and/or providing representation for program/agency/team in public meetings, hearings and workshops related to environmental or scientific topics.
  • Interpreting and explaining environmental regulations and requirements.
  • Assisting in the development of policies, procedures, statutes and/or regulations of a high degree of complexity.
  • Environmental permit development and review: Reviews of permit applications for technical accuracy and compliance with regulatory requirements; negotiating permit conditions; developing or reviewing technical plans and making decisions regarding the scientific merit of the proposal; and conducting conflict resolution.

Option 2

  • A Bachelor’s degree involving major study in environmental physical, or one of the natural sciences, environmental planning or other allied filed.
  • Five (5) years of professional-level experience in environmental analysis or control, or environmental planning which may include experience as listed in Option 1 above.

Option 3

  • A Master’s degree involving major study in environmental, physical, or one of the natural sciences, environmental planning or other allied field. 
  • Three (3) years of experience in environmental analysis or control, or environmental planning. which which may include experience as listed in Option 1 above. 

Option 4

  • A PhD involving major study in environmental, physical, or one of the natural sciences, environmental planning or other allied field.
  • Two (2) years of experience in environmental analysis or control, or environmental planning. which which may include experience as listed in Option 1 above. 

Option 5

Two years of experience as an Environmental Specialist 3 at the Department of Ecology.

All experience and education combinations that meet the requirements for this position:

Possible CombinationsCollege credit hours or degreeYears of required experience
Combination 1No college credit hours or degree9 years of experience
Combination 230-59 semester or 45-89 quarter credits.8 years of experience
Combination 360-89 semester or 90-134 quarter credits (AA degree).7 years of experience
Combination 490-119 semester or 135-179 quarter credits.6 years of experience
Combination 5 A Bachelor’s Degree5 years of experience
Combination 6 A Master’s Degree3 years of experience
Combination 7A PhD2 years of experience

Special Requirements/Conditions of Employment:

  • Must have a valid driver’s license.

Desired Qualifications:
We highly encourage you to apply even if you do not have some (or all) of the desired experience below.

  • Experience with water quality laws, rules and permits in the State of Washington
  • Experience with compliance or enforcement of environmental rules and regulations
  • Experience with inspecting or investigating wastewater treatment facilities or watersheds for water quality compliance
  • Experience positively influencing or leading others
  • Experience applying negotiation and conflict resolution skills
  • Experience communicating or teaching complex technical issues to junior staff or to the public

Note: Having some (or all) of this desired experience may make your application more competitive in a highly competitive applicant pool. Supplemental Information

Ecology seeks diverse applicants: We view diversity, equity, inclusion, and respect through a broad lens including race, ethnicity, class, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, military background, language, education, life experience, physical disability, neurodiversity, and intersectional identities. Qualified candidates from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Need an Accommodation in the application and/or screening process or this job announcement in an alternative format?

  • Please call: (360) 407-6186 or email: [email protected] and we will be happy to assist.
  • If you are deaf or hard of hearing you can reach the Washington Relay Service by dialing 7-1-1 or 1-800-833-6388.
  • If you need assistance applying for this job, please e-mail [email protected]. Please do not send an email to this address to follow-up the status of your application. You can view the latest status of your application on your profile’s main page.
  • If you are reading this announcement in print format, please enter the following URL to your search engine to apply: https://ecology.wa.gov/About-us/Get-to-know-us/Jobs-at-Ecology.   

Application Instructions:

It’s in the applicant’s best interest to submit all of the documents listed below. Applications without these documents may be declined.

  • A cover letter describing why you are interested in this position.
  • A resume outlining your experience and education (if applicable) as it relates to the minimum qualifications of this position.
  • Three professional references.

Please do NOT include your salary history. Wage/salary depends on qualifications or rules of promotion, if applicable.  

For Your Privacy:
When attaching documents to your application (Resume, Cover Letter, Transcripts, DD-214, etc.):

  • Please be sure to remove private information such as your social security number, date of birth, etc. 
  • Do not attach documents that are password protected, as these documents may not be reviewed and may cause errors within your application when downloaded. 

Additional Application Instructions for Current Ecology Employees: 

Please make sure to answer the agency-wide questions regarding permanent status as a classified employee within the Washington General Service or Washington Management Service. Do not forget to select Department of Ecology as a response to question 2, and type your personnel ID number for question 3. If you are not sure of your status or do not know your personnel ID number, please contact Human Resources.

Application Attestation: 

The act of submitting application materials electronically is considered affirmation that the information is complete and truthful. The state may verify this information and any untruthful or misleading answers are cause for rejection of your application or dismissal if employed. 

Other Information:

If you have specific questions about the position, please email Erik Van Doren at: [email protected] Please do not contact Erik to inquire about the status of your application.
To request the full position description: email [email protected]

Why work for Ecology?

As an agency, our mission is to protect, preserve and enhance Washington’s environment for current and future generations. We invest in our employees to create and sustain a working environment that encourages creative leadership, effective resource management, teamwork, professionalism and accountability.

Joining Ecology means becoming a part of a team committed to protecting and restoring Washington State’s environment. A career in public service allows you to help solve some of the most challenging problems facing our state, while keeping your health and financial security a priority. We combine one of the most competitive benefits packages in the nation with a strong commitment to life/work balance.

Ecology employees may be eligible for the following:
Medical/Dental/Vision for employee & dependent(s), Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), Vacation, Sick, and other Leave*, 11 Paid Holidays per year*, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Tuition Waiver,  Long Term Disability & Life Insurance, Deferred Compensation Programs, Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP),  Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA), Employee Assistance Program, Commute Trip Reduction Incentives (Download PDF reader), Combined Fund Drive, SmartHealth *See the Benefits tab in this announcement for more information 

Student debt: how working for Ecology can help
The Department of Ecology is a qualifying employer for the Public Service Forgiveness Program (PSLF). See https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service for more details.

To learn more about The Department of Ecology, please visit our website at www.ecology.wa.gov and follow, like or visit us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or our blog.
Collective Bargaining: This is a position covered by a bargaining unit for which the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) is the exclusive representative.   

Equal Opportunity Employer: The Washington State Department of Ecology is an equal opportunity employer. We strive to create a working environment that includes and respects cultural, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation and gender identity diversity. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, persons of disability, persons over 40 years of age, veterans, military spouses or people with military status, and people of all sexual orientations and gender identities are encouraged to apply. Persons needing accommodation in the application/testing process or this job announcement in an alternative format may call (360) 407-6186. Applicants who are deaf or hard of hearing may call the Washington Relay Service by dialing 7-1-1 or 1-800-833-6388.
Note: This recruitment may be used to fill other positions of the same job classification across the agency. Once all the position(s) from the recruitment announcement are filled, the recruitment may only be used to fill additional open positions for the next sixty (60) days. 

Apply By: ASAP