Department of Ecology News Release - May 14, 2012

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Ecology awards $68 million for projects to provide jobs, protect clean water for local communities

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is awarding $68 million in grants for 117 stormwater construction projects across the state. Ecology estimates that the projects will provide up to 400 jobs across the state while protecting lakes, rivers and Puget Sound.

The funding, part of the recently adopted state budget economic stimulus “jobs bill,” helps the state’s most populated communities manage and control polluted stormwater runoff. It also helps them repair broken stormwater systems.

The money is from the voter-approved Local Toxics Control Account. It’s funded through a tax paid by wholesale distributors of petroleum and other hazardous materials as part of the Model Toxics Control Act of 1988.

“Our local governments are financially strapped, and I’m proud that our state can provide this funding,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire. “This money will give communities new jobs, cleaner water, and much-needed help for following stormwater permit requirements.”

Polluted stormwater runoff is the biggest threat to waters in our state’s most populated areas. Runoff from hardened surfaces picks up chemicals and bacteria and carries it downstream into our lakes, rivers and into Puget Sound. Most of the time, stormwater is not treated, even when it goes into a street drain.

Here’s how the funding adds up:

Ecology’s Fiscal Year 2012 Statewide Stormwater Program will share its originally intentioned $30 million, plus an additional $24 million. Ecology is offering grants the top 96 projects that qualified for funds.

Ecology’s Fiscal Year 2011 Stormwater Retrofit Low Impact Development Grant Program will share an additional $14.5 million for local government construction projects that are not yet completed with funding received through the 2010 state budget. The 2010 state budget originally gave Ecology $23.4 million to fund 43 projects.

Stormwater retrofit projects correct deficiencies in older, existing stormwater infrastructure in urban areas. The projects might reduce stormwater contamination, reduce high stormwater flows, or both. Many retrofit projects use low-impact development techniques.

Low impact development is a construction technique that uses vegetation, healthy soils, porous pavement and other tools to keep stormwater from running off a site and carrying pollution downstream.

Read specifics about the 117 local projects under “New” 2012 Funded Project at the bottom of this webpage: www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/funding/FundingPrograms/OtherFundingPrograms/StWa12a/FY12aStWa.html

In addition, the 2012 state budget sends $1 million to Ecology over the next state fiscal year to provide training through the Washington Stormwater Center to train local governments, contractors and developers about low impact development. This funding comes from the state’s just-out operating budget and it must be spent by June 2013.

The $68 million is a combination of funding from the 2011-13 biennial capital budget and the recent 2012 supplemental capital budget.

Since 2005, local governments have received $183 million for stormwater needs from state funding and from federal 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act dollars.

The state’s most-populated cities and counties are required to manage their polluted runoff under the state’s municipal stormwater permit program .

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Media contact: Sandy Howard, 360-407-6408 (desk); 360-791-3177 (cellular); sandy.howard@ecy.wa.gov 

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