Jan. 21, 2015 ECOLOGY NEWS

Updating the stormwater permits for Western Washington

OLYMPIA – It rains a lot in the Pacific Northwest, so it makes sense that Washington state has made a lot of progress in managing polluted stormwater runoff – from building infrastructure that captures rain water and allows it to slowly seep back into the ground, to monitoring to see if activities are working.

Polluted stormwater runoff is the rain that drains off rooftops, paved streets, highways and parking lots. Along the way, it can pick up pollution from oil, fertilizers, pesticides, soil, trash and animal waste. Then the water might flow untreated directly into a local stream, bay, lake or Puget Sound.

Unmanaged, stormwater flooding can pollute waters and harm important salmon habitat.

When stormwater is managed well, decreased amounts of bacteria and toxic chemicals are carried into our downstream waters. This, in turn, helps restore the health of waters in our streams, lakes and Puget Sound.

Western Washington permits updated

 Local governments in Western Washington  are required to follow the state’s stormwater permits, which are key tools to protect water quality.

Currently, local governments in Western Washington are seeing a few changes to the permits that are required for managing their stormwater.

After a public process, Ecology modified the August 2013 municipal stormwater permits for Western Washington only.

The changes are being made following rulings by the state Pollution Control Hearings Board to resolve appeals of the permits.

Changes that take effect Jan. 16, 2015, include:

  •      Technical issues around low-impact development.
  •      Watershed planning requirements.
  •      Improved definitions.
  •       Updates to the Western Washington Stormwater Manual.

You can read more about the changes at Ecology’s Municipal Stormwater website.