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In 2007, King County and approximately a dozen water utility representatives began having a dialog about potential refinements to the County's review of utility comprehensive plans. Some utility representatives expressed concern that the County's review of plans was lengthy and inefficient, and that it wasn't always clear what the County was looking for in its review of water plans. In addition, some utility representatives expressed concern about underlying legal authority issues. The County and utility representatives agreed to work together on refinements to the process that would streamline and clarify the review process while still addressing County interests. The group also agreed to not include the underlying legal authority issues in the current dialog. Below is a brief summary of the progress resulting from the dialog between King County and utility representatives. The initial goals of the process were to:

  1. Streamline the water system plan review process while still addressing County interests;
  2. Resolve water system plan review process issues despite differing opinions on the authority issue; and
  3. Clarify the purpose of questions in the County water system plan review process and their related use by the County.

Results of the discussions:

1.  Number of questions in the review process/ Guidance Document reduced

  • Previous checklist contained approximately 40-45 questions
  • New checklist contains approximately 32 questions, a more than 20 percent reduction

2.  Questions are more focused

  • New questions are intended by the County to be clearer and more focused
  • Previous checklist: All 40-45 questions were treated as "S" questions ("S" means King County wants an answer and the answer will be substantively evaluated). There has now been a 65 percent reduction in the number of "S" questions.
  • New Checklist:
    • 14 "S" questions
    • 16 "Sn" questions ("Sn means King County wants an answer but won't grade/judge)
    • 2 "I" questions ("I" means it is an information only request)

3. Number of copies utilities submit to the UTRC
Reduced the number of hard copies utilities need to submit to the County from seven down to two and one digital copy.

4. Proposed timeline goals

a. 90 days or less for the County review
b. 74 days for the County to get ordinance to Executive

  • 2005-2008:
    • 234 days for the County to review plan
    • 241 days for the utility to respond
    • 196 days for County to get ordinance to Executive
  • 2008-2009:
    • 102 days for the County to review plan (56 percent reduction in time from 2005-2008)
    • 117 days for the utility to respond
    • 108 days for the County to approve final plan and get ordinance to the Executive (45 percent reduction in time)
  • 2010-2012
    • 79 days for the County to review draft plan (22 percent reduction in time from 2008-2009)
    • 188 days for the utility to respond
    • 86 days for the County to approve final plan and get ordinance to Executive (20 percent reduction in time from 2008-2009) 
  • 2013-2014
    • 79 days for the County to review draft plan (0 percent reduction in time from 2010-2012)
    • 370 days for the utility to respond
    • 69 days for the County to approve final plan and get ordinance to Executive (20 percent reduction in time from 2010-2012)
  • 2015-2016
    • 62 days for the County to review draft plan (22 percent reduction in time from 2013-2014)
    • 286 days for the utility to respond
    • 42 days for the County to approve final plan and get ordinance to Executive (39 percent reduction in time from 2013-2014)

In summary, the County processed a water plans in an average of 430 days for plans submitted in 2005-2008, 210 days in 2008–2009, and 156 days in 2010-2014. For the 2015-2016 time period the County processed plans in an average of 104 days. (Note: These averages do not include the number of days between the date that the UTRC provided comments to the utility and the date that the utility submits its response. Nor does it include the number of days from Plan submission to the Executive until final Council Action.)

The County is committed to ensuring that the number of days for our actions from plan review through delivery to the County Executive is no more than 164 days, and, whenever possible, to reducing that time even further.

For more information on the King County Benchmark Program.

For questions or more information about King County Utilities Technical Review Committee, please contact Steve Hirschey, UTRC Chair.