The Washington legislature is currently looking at three separate bills that would address various aspects of Washington’s stormwater requirements. Representative Liz Pike is the primary sponsor of three bills in the Washington State House of Representatives while Senator Rivers is the primary sponsor of two bills in the Washington State Senate. The first bill, House Bill 1234, would delay the requirements of the new Phase I NPDES Municipal Stormwater permit until August 2016 to coincide with the mandatory updates to the comprehensive plans for GMA counties. The new permit requires that new development, whether public or private, employ low impact development (“LID”) techniques. This bill is in direct response to appeals filed by King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Clark counties along with the Building Industry Association of Clark County (“BIA”), challenging the new permit for a variety of reasons, but primarily focused on the cost and maintenance issues associated with LIDs.
House Bill 1235 and Senate Bill 5411 would require that the Department of Ecology focus on meeting permit requirements rather than spending money on optional or “bells and whistles” projects when awarding grants or loans for stormwater projects. Many local governments face difficulties in meeting the basic requirements of the new permits. This would assist by leveraging state resources to ensure that more jurisdictions get into compliance with the rules being set by the state.
The third set of bills, House Bill 1237 and Senate Bill 5435, requires that the Department of Ecology create a pilot project to test the validity of alternative approaches to stormwater management. This strikes at the heart of a ruling of the Pollution Control Hearings Board which struck down an alternative approach agreed on by the DOE and Clark County on a two-to-one vote. The alternative approach could not even get off the ground before it was challenged by environmental groups. This would be a legislative directive to allow the pilot to actually be attempted in the field to prove the science. This approach would leverage resources to create large regional stormwater banks that would try and attack the real stormwater culprit, existing development built before stormwater controls, rather than increasing stormwater ponds on new development.
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