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Published on Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sound choices/connections: Protecting Puget Sound through local government decisions

County and city elected officials and staff from the Puget Sound region gathered in SeaTac on May 29, 2015, to share land use, stormwater and other approaches to protecting Puget Sound. The goal of the “Sound Choices” workshop was to help elected officials think about how they can help protect Puget Sound and the waters that enter Puget Sound through their day to day decision making. Highlighted approaches included:

  • Adopting policies to protect water quality and restore habitat.
  • Promoting low impact development to reduce urban stormwater and increase groundwater.
  • Purchasing regenerative air street sweepers to greatly reduce toxic pollution from roadways.
  • Pursuing Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) programs.
  • Prioritizing habitat projects in capital facilities plans to be prepared for potential grant opportunities.

At a similar workshop called “Sound Connections” was held at the Association of Washington Cities conference on June 24. City elected officials shared their approaches to protecting Puget Sound. Highlights of that workshop include:

  • Population projections show that the Puget Sound region will need to accommodate two more Seattle’s and two more Tacoma’s by 2030. We need to plan now how to accommodate that growth while protecting and restoring our natural areas and Puget Sound.
  • Redmond developed a Watershed Management Plan called for in their Comprehensive Plan that has helped them to prioritize watersheds for stormwater retrofits and obtain grant funding for projects.
  • Clustering development at higher densities near a transit station and rezoning 462 acres from single-family to multi-use residential resulted in an increase in population capacity from 7,944 to 56,529 in Shoreline.
  • In Tukwila, lessons learned during the development of their Shoreline Master Program included:
  • Steering Committee/Stakeholder participation is key
  • Transparency and outreach are essential, including involvement with regional groups
  • Education for community and officials on Ecology regulations and actual impacts is important

Materials developed for these workshops are posted at www.psp.wa.gov and include:

  • A list of Projects and Policies that several Puget Sound local governments have initiated;
  • Issues and Solution Overview with links to resources;
  • An Implementation Checklist to identify comprehensive plan items, development regulation or operations practices that may impact the health of Puget Sound.
  • Links to additional Resources.

The workshops were funded by the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) and the US EPA, and coordinated by the Department of Commerce in partnership with AWC and WSAC. For questions regarding the workshop or materials, please contact Lynn.Kohn@commerce.wa.gov or 360.725.3042.

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