Communities across the state seeking funding for clean water projects are about to get a boost from the Washington Department of Ecology.
The agency announced that it is awarding nearly $220 million in grants and loans to help pay for 230 high-priority, clean-water projects, and San Juan County is among the recipients.
County Councilman Rick Hughes said it’s important to treat water runoff that comes from businesses and county roads and to properly monitor flow to avoid flooding.
“The most important reason to address stormwater is that our community and our roads should be producing the least amount of pollutants going into the water,” he said.
Stormwater is surface water from heavy rain fall. In an undeveloped area, it is absorbed into the ground or bodies of water. In a more urban setting, when it falls onto surfaces like roads, parking lots and roofs, it picks up pollutants before making its way back into the environment.
Starting in 2018, San Juan County will be addressing stormwater issues in conjunction with road projects.
“The county is creating a Clean Water Utility, and we will be considering stormwater fees to pay for a long list of projects that will be spread out between the islands,” Hughes said. “And grant money is also part of paying for that.”
DOE county grants
• $52,000 for water quality treatment units to be installed along Prune Alley and Fern Street in Eastsound to treat the runoff from 2.4 acres of roadway and commercial parking area. This retrofit project will help address existing water quality impairment in Fishing Bay and East Sound. These improvements will coincide with previously planned right-of-way improvements to address current flooding and ponding problems.
• $275,750 for stormwater improvements to the Lopez Farmers Market site. The project is to provide stormwater conveyance and treatment from rural and roadway drainage that collects along Fisherman Bay Road and to infiltrate and treat stormwater runoff from Village Road in the Lopez Village Urban Growth Area. The funded portion of the project would be for permeable paver parking along Village Road. The drainage is one of the two main stormwater drainages through the UGA and discharges into Weeks Wetland and Fisherman Bay with little or no treatment.
• $86,370 for developing and implementing a direct seed program through the San Juan Islands Conservation District. It would provide countywide access to direct seed equipment, on-site technical assistance for best management practices, and outreach and education to agricultural producers. SJICD will purchase a single-pass, low-disturbance seed drill that will be available for rent. Farmers will implement methods to restore pastures and plant crops using low tillage direct seed methods.
• $277,000 for the planning and design of a Lopez Village Park stormwater treatment facility to improve the quality of runoff from pollutant-generating surfaces. A preliminary report recommended the construction of a treatment wetland. New information indicates the project site may not be suitable for wetlands. A new study needs to be performed that includes site investigation to determine the characteristics of the soils and what other treatment alternatives are available.
WDE denied the grant for a Spring Street waterfront stormwater filtration vault in Friday Harbor.
See all of the funded projects online at goo.gl/uSXKFQ.
Funding for these projects was able to move forward once the 2017-19 capital budget passed this year. This funding was delayed when the capital budget was not passed during the 2017 legislative session.
“Local communities depend on these grants and loans to protect water quality and maintain vital wastewater infrastructure,” said WDE Maia Bellon in a press release. “These projects, and the jobs they’ll create, really make a difference economically and environmentally.”