Friday, January 18, 2019

$183 million proposed for clean water projects across the state

More than 100 projects would help improve infrastructure and protect the environment. 


Ecology is proposing to award more than $183 million in financial assistance for 107 high-priority clean water projects across the state. Our Water Quality Combined Funding Program supports local communities, helping them upgrade sewage treatment systems, manage polluted stormwater runoff, and complete a variety of other projects to prevent and cleanup pollution. The entire draft funding list is available online.

This year, more than $114 million of our combined funding is for projects that will help support Puget Sound recovery. These projects are a high priority, as they help improve water quality and create a healthy habitat for the endangered Southern Resident Orca, salmon, and the food web they rely on.

Nearly 70 percent of the funding we manage goes to local communities for environmental projects. Our clean water funding comes from a mix of state and federal funds dedicated for water quality improvements and protection. State financial managers calculate that 11 direct and indirect jobs are created in Washington for every $1 million spent on building clean water infrastructure.

The funding is contingent on passage of state and federal budgets appropriating funding for the projects. We will announce the final project list this summer, as soon as funding is secured.


Find proposed projects in your area using our interactive map. 


Here are a few project highlights


As proposed, 38 communities across the state will split $33 million in grants to implement projects to treat and reduce stormwater pollution. More than $20.5 million of the stormwater grants funding is for Puget Sound recovery projects. The highest-priority stormwater projects include:

bioretention cell consisting of plants and flowers
Renton's grant-funded Sunset Terrace Regional Stormwater Facility
bioretention cell provides enhanced treatment for 2.9 acres. 
  • The City of Bremerton in Kitsap County may receive a grant of more than $800 thousand to construct a system to treat runoff from 6.31 acres of urban roads and parking lots and 8.32 acres of other surfaces to improve water quality in Ostrich Creek. The creek is considered the most polluted stream in Kitsap County, with restrictions on contact due to pollution. The project was the highest rated stormwater project among this year’s applications, and is a high priority in the Puget Sound Action Agenda.
  • The City of Tacoma in Pierce County is slated for a $5 million grant and more than $2.7 million in loan to replace nearly 27 blocks of failed residential roadway in the Larchmont Neighborhood. The project will treat stormwater and reduce stormwater flows from 43 developed acres through infiltration using permeable pavement and sidewalks. The project will help restore more natural hydrologic conditions to Flett and Chambers creeks.
Thirty-three projects are tagged to receive about $21.4 million in grants, forgivable loans that do not have to be repaid, and low interest rate loans to address nonpoint pollution. Nonpoint pollution has a significant impact on water quality; it comes from activities that are widespread usually across an area instead of a single identifiable source of pollution. The projects proposed for funding include an expansion of the highly successful Regional Loan Program for repairing and replacing failing on-site sewage systems at homes and small businesses. Examples of other nonpoint projects that may be funded include:

open field showing new plantings
Grant-funded riparian restoration prevents stream channel erosion, 
filters pollutants, and improves salmon habitat on the Palouse River. 
  • The Underwood Conservation District in Klickitat County is in line to receive a $250 thousand grant to conduct riparian planting, install cattle exclusion fencing, implement livestock best management practices, monitor water quality, and provide education and technical assistance in the White Salmon River Watershed. The primary areas of focus for the project are streamside agricultural areas in the Trout Lake Valley.
  • The Cascadia Conservation District in Chelan County is on track to receive a grant of about $245 thousand to implement a large-scale riparian restoration plan through a community-wide clean water outreach and education campaign and by providing technical assistance to landowners to take steps to reduce nonpoint source pollution and practice good stewardship. The project is consistent with actions recommended in locally developed water quality improvement reports and management plans.
There are 36 wastewater treatment projects marked to receive approximately $125 million. Nine of the projects qualify for hardship financial assistance due to their potential impact on residential sewer bills. These hardship projects may receive a combination of grants, forgivable loans that do not have to be repaid, and low interest rate loans. High priority wastewater hardship projects include:
An exposed outfall pipe goes from Vader's lagoon
 to Olequa Creek. The pipe has leaks that will be fixed 
if the project is funded.
  • Yakima County is proposed to receive nearly $1.5 million in grant and $700 thousand in loan to design and construct critical repairs and improvements at the wastewater treatment facility in the community of Buena. The repairs and improvements are necessary to ensure proper treatment of the wastewater discharged from the facility. The project was the highest rated of all projects submitted for funding this year.
  • The City of Vader in Lewis County may receive about $4.8 million in grant and loan to protect Olequa Creek by constructing significant improvements to its wastewater treatment facility. If adequate funding is included in the state budget, the funding for the project will be approximately half grant and half loan.

Let us know what you think


Comments

We invite comments on our draft funding list. Send comments to Daniel Thompson at daniel.thompson@ecy.wa.gov by 5:00pm on February 18.

Public meeting

You can also join us for a meeting to discuss the draft funding list:
Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 1:00pm
Pierce County Library
Processing and Administrative Center
3005 112th Street E
Tacoma, WA, 98446

More Information

Learn more about clean water grants and loans on our website.

By Daniel Thompson and Colleen Keltz, Water Quality Program

Monday, January 14, 2019

Ecology seeking comment on Clallam County's proposed shoreline master program revisions


Shoreline along Lake Sutherland, located 17 miles west of Port Angeles in Clallam County, Washington.
Shoreline along Lake Sutherland, about 17 miles west of Port Angeles in Clallam County
Starting today, we are accepting public comment until Thursday, Feb. 28, about significant revisions Clallam County is seeking to make to its shoreline master program (SMP).

The locally-tailored set of land-use policies and regulations is designed to protect and guide how Clallam County will develop, restore, and preserve more than 600 miles of marine and freshwater shorelines in the county, including:

  • Approximately 130 miles of marine shoreline including a portion of the Pacific Ocean coastline, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and numerous saltwater inlets such as Clallam, Crescent, Dungeness, Freshwater, and Sequim bays.
  • More than 480 miles of freshwater shoreline along the Bogachiel, Calawah, Elwha, Quillayute, and Sol Duc rivers.
  • About 1,500 shoreline acres around six lakes in the county including Beaver, Crescent, Dickey, Elk, Pleasant, and Sutherland.

Clallam County last amended its SMP in 1992. The revised SMP will replace the county’s current master program and is designed to:

  • Prioritize water-oriented uses and development in Clallam County.
  • Provide for public access to public waters and shorelines.
  • Support restoration actions consistent with the county’s shoreline restoration plan.
  • Incorporate critical area regulations to ensure environmentally-sensitive areas within the county’s shoreline jurisdiction are protected.

Shoreline along Elwha River in Clallam County
Shoreline along the Elwha River in Clallam County.
Draft SMP documents available for review online or by appointment

Electronic copies of the county's draft SMP documents are available for review and comment through our website while printed copies are available for review, by appointment, at Ecology and Clallam County. To arrange a time to view printed documents at Ecology, please contact Michelle McConnell. Her phone number is 360-407-6329 and Ecology's physical address is:

Washington Department of Ecology
Southwest Regional Office
300 Desmond Dr.
Lacey, WA 98504

To review the draft SMP documents at Clallam County, please contact Steve Gray. His phone number is 360-417-2520 and the county office is located at:

Clallam County
Department of Community Development
223 E. 4th Ave., Suite 5
Port Angeles, WA 98362

How to submit public comments

Comments only need to be provided once before the Feb. 28 deadline at 5 p.m.. While we prefer public comments be submitted through our online comment form, we also will accept comments by mail sent to:

Michelle McConnell
Washington Department of Ecology
Southwest Regional Office
PO Box 47775
Olympia, WA 98504-7775

Next steps

Once the public comment period closes Feb. 28, Ecology will compare Clallam County's proposed SMP to requirements under the state Shoreline Management Act and Shoreline Master Program Guidelines. Based on the comparison, we will decide whether to:
  • Approve Clallam County’s proposed SMP as is.
  • Approve the updated SMP with recommended changes.
  • Send the proposed SMP back to Clallam County with required changes to meet statutory and rule requirements. Recommended changes may also be included with the required changes.

Friday, January 11, 2019

2019 Washington State Brownfields Conference

Join us for the Washington State Brownfields Conference in Spokane this coming May. Brownfields are abandoned or underused properties where there may be environmental contamination. Cleaning up and redeveloping brownfields is key to local economic development efforts, turning perceived problems into community assets, such as affordable housing.

The goal of this conference is to bring together public and private sector stakeholders in Washington and the Inland Northwest to share information on brownfields redevelopment successes and future opportunities.

Save the Date postcard for the Washington State Brownfields ConferenceConference dates and location

Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 12 – 5 p.m.
Thursday, May 30, 2019, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Doubletree by Hilton Spokane City Center
322 North Spokane Falls Court, Spokane

Registration information and the agenda will be available February 2019 on our Brownfields Conference web page.

What the conference will include:

  • Sessions on current technical issues, funding sources, and affordable housing opportunities
  • Case studies
  • Field trips to tour successful brownfield redevelopment projects in Spokane
  • Lunch and light refreshments on Day 1
  • Breakfast, lunch, and light refreshments on Day 2

Who should attend?

  • Local and regional government officials
  • Housing agencies
  • Nonprofit economic and community development organizations
  • Environmental consultants
  • Anyone interested in learning about brownfields or financial resources for local redevelopment

For more information, please contact:

Ali Furmall, Small and Rural Communities Brownfields Specialist
ali.furmall@ecy.wa.gov
509-329-3436, cell: 509-655-0538

Friday, January 4, 2019

Fecal Matters: A no-contact advisory issued for Clallam Bay in Sekiu

BEACH program update


Clallam County Health and Human Services has issued a no-contact advisory for Clallam Bay beaches from Sekiu Point to Slip Point through Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. This closure is due to a combined sewer overflow. The public is advised to avoid contact with the water in the affected area.

Contact with fecal contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections, and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

Stay updated on water quality at your beaches by following our Fecal Matters blog posts, connecting on Facebook, or joining our listserv.

Julianne Ruffner, our BEACH Program Manager, is available at 360-407-6154 or julianne.ruffner@ecy.wa.gov for questions.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Grant funding available for spill response equipment & training

When there’s an oil or hazardous material spill to the environment, damage follows quickly. The faster first responders can act, with the best tools at hand, the better.

That’s why we offer Oil Spill Equipment Cache Grants to help local emergency responders buy and pre-position equipment so it’s readily available to help fight a spill before it grows.

Yellow diamonds mark the locations of funding during 
the last two years. Go to our map to learn more.  
This view of our Ecology grants and loans map shows descriptions and locations of equipment we funded in the last two funding cycles. You can see how our grant program is building out a large network of equipment across the state – this is our intention. Our grants also pay for training on how to use the equipment.

Since 2017, we have funded more than 60 equipment caches worth $3.8 million. Here are some examples of the most recent funding:

  • The Seattle Fire Department got $247,000 for firefighting foam Novacool, a less toxic foam that doesn’t contain perfluorinated compounds that persist in the environment. It used the foam in August 2018 to suppress flammable vapors from a gasoline tanker truck spill in West Seattle. 
  • The White Salmon Fire Department got $188,000 for radios.
  • The Lummi Indian Business Council received $100,000 for a spill response boat.
  • San Juan County Fire District 4 got $30,250 for firefighting foam, boating safety equipment and spill response training.
  • The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community received $186,400 for safety and air monitoring equipment and spill response training.
West Pierce County Fire & Rescue
gets on-water, grant-funded training.

Classroom training for emergency
responders in Chelan County
funded by our grants.

Who's eligible

You are eligible for funding if you represent a city, county, port district, state agency, tribal government, clean air agency, local health jurisdiction, public utility district, irrigation district, and other special purpose district in Washington that serves communities at risk for oil spills and hazardous materials incidents.
The types of equipment our grants 
pay for.

Visit our website to learn about our in-person workshops and an online webinar we’re holding in January 2019, and watch a short video showing the kinds of equipment our grants will pay for.

You can apply for a grant now through March 6. If you have questions, contact Laura Hayes at laura.hayes@ecy.wa.gov or 360-407-7485.

By Sandy Howard, Spill Preparedness, Prevention, and Response Program

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Eyes Under Puget Sound: Critter of the month — dove snails

Left: White Dove by Sander van der Wel (Netherlands).  Center: Alia carinata collected from Puget Sound.
Right: Close-up of the shell of Astyris gausapata, showing microscopic vertical lines called axial striations.


The holidays are in full swing – and what could capture the spirit of the season better than the dove – the universal symbol for peace, love, and goodwill? You might not know it, but a different kind of beautiful dove lives under the wintry waters of Puget Sound.

Birds of a feather?

Dove snails don’t look much like their avian namesake – except for the teardrop shape of their shells (and the opening, or aperture, might be able to pass for a wing if you’re feeling creative). Perhaps the diverse patterns of sculpture and color on their shells reminded some naturalist long ago of a dove’s mottled feathers.

Taxonomists can’t always trust these color patterns when trying to distinguish similar-looking species. For example, the two species of dove snails we encounter most commonly in Puget Sound are the nearly identical Alia carinata (the carinate dove snail) and Astyris gausapata (the shaggy dovesnail). Both species have white, orange, and brown markings, so it’s their shell texture that gives them away. A. carinata has a smooth shell, while A. gausapata has fine vertical raised lines called axial striations.


Lip reading

Did you know that snails have lips? Well, maybe not true lips like we have, but the flared part of the opening in a snail’s shell is called the outer lip, and it can be another clue for a taxonomist trying to tell similar species apart. A. carinata has a carinate shoulder, meaning that the top part of the upper lip is pronounced and sticks out. In addition, A. carinata’s outer lip is much thicker and darker in color with heavier, more noticeable “teeth” on the interior edge. 

Left: Aperture (opening) of Astyris gausapata. Center: Aperture of Alia carinata. Right: Gastropod radula: Hershler R. & Liu, H.P. (2011).

Sharp-tongued

Dove snails don’t use the teeth on their shells for chewing – like most mollusks, they have a much more specialized feeding tool. A tongue-like projection called the radula helps the snail scrape up food before it swallows. The dove snail’s radula is covered in tiny serrations that are replaced as they wear down. Puget Sound’s dove snails are carnivores; they use their radulas to chew up marine worms and crustaceans, or to grind down the shells of other mollusks. So much for peace on Earth!  If they can’t find enough prey, detritus (decomposing organic material) is their second choice.

Shut the front door

This shaggy dove snail has its operculum
 pulled closed for protection.
Like all mollusks, dove snails build their shells around themselves using calcium carbonate found in the environment. The coiled shell allows the animal to withdraw inside when it is threatened. It even has a “front door” it can open and close. As the snail retracts, it pulls the soft tissue of its muscular foot behind it. Attached to the end of the foot is a protective plate called the operculum that seals the aperture up tight.

When doves cry

Sometimes a hard shell and an operculum aren’t enough to protect from predators. In some parts of the world, humans collect dove snails for their colorful shells, making them into souvenir necklaces or even using them as a food source.

The Puget Sound species are too tiny for people to eat, but shore birds and fish eat them by picking them off intertidal rocks, kelp, and eelgrass. The empty shells of the unlucky snails make perfect dwellings for tiny hermit crabs – so even after they are gone, the dove snails are able to give other animals the precious gift of a home.


By: Dany Burgess & Angela Eagleston, Environmental Assessment Program
Our benthic taxonomists, Dany and Angela, identify and count sediment-dwelling organisms as part of the Marine Sediment Monitoring Program. They track the numbers and types of species they see in order to understand the health of Puget Sound and detect changes over time.

Dany and Angela share their discoveries by bringing us a benthic Critter of the Month. These posts will give you a peek into the life of Puget Sound’s least known inhabitants. Can't get enough benthos? See photos from our Eyes Under Puget Sound collection on Flickr.




Monday, December 17, 2018

Irrigation association honors Columbia River office director

Office of Columbia River Director Tom Tebb, cis flanked by Scott Revell, incoming president of the Washington State Water Resources Association and outgoing WSWRA president Craig Simpson.
Tom Tebb, director of Ecology's Office of Columbia River, received special recognition during the Washington State Water Resources Association (WSWRA) annual conference at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane on Dec. 6, 2018.

“Tom Tebb's professionalism and long-term dedication to ensuring the continued availability of water supply in Eastern Washington is greatly appreciated by the WSWRA membership, " said Craig Simpson, East Columbia Basin Irrigation District manager and WSWRA past president, in presenting the Distinguished Service Award.

The plaque's inscription states that it is given, “In recognition of your outstanding contributions to the irrigation and water resources community."

Tom has over 30 years of environmental and engineering experience in both the private and public sectors. He previously served as Central Regional Director, and has been a manager in five programs during his tenure with Ecology. They include Nuclear Waste, Shorelands and Environmental Assistance, Water Quality, Water Resources, and Office of Columbia River.

Authorized by the Legislature in 2006, the Office of Columbia River pursues water supply solutions in the Columbia River Basin for both instream and out-of-stream benefits. The program has overseen a huge project to improve water deliveries to irrigators in the Odessa Subarea on the Columbia Plateau. Construction of siphons and widening canals will mean that farmers will have options beyond pumping groundwater from a rapidly declining aquifer. The program also supports water efficiencies and habitat enhancements in the Yakima River Basin.

WSWRA is the coordinating agency for over 100 irrigation districts in Washington. Irrigation districts deliver water to over 1.2 million acres of irrigated agriculture in the state.