Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Why the state’s municipal stormwater permits matter

By Sandy Howard, communication manager, Water Quality Program

Most people get this idea: What we do on the land causes pollution problems in our lakes, rivers and Puget Sound.

Polluted runoff

Runoff from surfaces in populated areas picks up chemicals and bacteria and carries it downstream into our waters. Right now, polluted runoff is the biggest threat to urban-area lakes, rivers and Puget Sound.

Most of the time, stormwater is not treated, even when it goes into a street drain.

So right now we’ve got pollution problems caused by existing development and we’re going to have future pollution problems as we build out our land.

Getting to clean water through stormwater permits

One of the ways Washington and the nation address polluted runoff is through Clean Water Act stormwater permits. The most populated areas must come under the permits, and in our state, the Washington Department of Ecology administers them.

The stormwater permits are to be updated every five years and they are designed to gradually increase environmental protections over time with each new update.

State & local governments work together

We’ve just come out with proposed, updated stormwater permits for the state. They provide greater environmental protections while recognizing that local governments are currently strapped for resources.

We've involved local governments in developing the new proposed permits and we intend to keep them involved as we finalize them.

Read more about the proposed permits and get involved by attending a public workshop. We welcome your comments — we’re taking them until Feb. 3, 2102.

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