News

Storm water regs create controversy

By Dennis Box-The Courier-Herald

The cost of rain appears to keep going up.

New stormwater management regulations coming from the state Department of Ecology have some city officials and the Association of Washington Cities (AWC) more than a little worried.

During the Jan. 9 City Council meeting Councilman Jim Rackley asked that the council and city consider joining AWC in an appeal of Ecology's phase II storm water permitting regulations. The appeal will ask for a slowdown in compliance to the regulations.

According to AWC the appeal needs to be filed by Feb. 16.

“I understand and respect theses regulations,” Rackley said. “But we need more time to come up with the funding. I'm aware of the need, but we can't do this overnight.”

According to Rackley, the regulations would ask the city to eliminate all pollutants from the stormwater system, “and the time frame is now.”

AWC is concerned about the cost of a provision in the regulations mandating properties already built out to rebuild the storm water management system on the property.

City officials are concerned the regulations would slow or halt their downtown development plan because of dramatically increased costs related to stormwater management.

Rackley said the city passed a $2 increase to help meet the demands of stormwater management, “but we have to look further to meet these new regulations.”

Residents pay a stormwater utility rate of $6 per month.

The stormwater regulations are based on the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments, or Clean Water Act, which was passed in 1972. The law covers pollutants that are feed into streams and rivers through stormwater run off, sewers and other method.

Initially the act addressed city sewage systems, but in the 1990s the federal and state governments began looking more seriously at stormwater systems.

Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman said one of the issues is that Ecology came up with stricter regulations than the federal government.

“Either the regulations make sense or they don't,” Swatman said. “My feeling is the more we can do, the better.”

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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