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Published on Friday, November 9, 2012

Stormwater funding

Recently, AWC staff has begun meeting with various stakeholders to begin discussions about how to move forward on our preliminary priorities of enhanced stormwater funding and a more formalized and stable stormwater funding program at the state level.

As we begin these conversations, we are seeking feedback from cities about how best to accomplish these goals. We are hearing consistently that operating funding to support local governments in meeting permit obligations is a high priority, especially stable, ongoing, per-capita funding. We are also hearing that, as the low impact development requirements phase in over the next several years, there is a high need for training on how to deal with these requirements.

Finally, we continue to hear concerns about the feasibility of the current approach which prioritizes costly capital retrofits as the primary tool to deal with the “legacy” issues of the existing built environment. A recent study of the Juanita Creek basin in the City of Kirkland (link) projected a cost of $200 million per square mile to implement these retrofits. It’s not likely that we’ll be successful at securing enough financial assistance to use this as our only tool across the state. Figuring out the most cost effective and environmentally beneficial way to address the pollution issues created by the built environment is a conversation we’re interested in having.

One item that we’re hearing consistently from the environmental community is their interest in ensuring that any new state funding would not merely supplant existing local resources that would then go for other purposes, but instead ensuring that any investment is getting more stormwater work done overall. We believe that there are creative ways to both provide the operating support that cities are consistently asking for, while ensuring that that investment enhances state and local efforts overall. If you have ideas on how to accomplish that, we would welcome them.

Another element in these discussions is fund source. Although there is hope that other resources can be brought to bear, the most likely approach will be to use MTCA dollars. These dollars also fund critical toxic cleanups that are very important to a number of cities. We are looking critically at the mixture of uses of those funds and will be seeking to ensure that both priorities can be funded at appropriate levels.

If you have thoughts on how we can best meet your needs for stormwater funding or thoughts about creative ways to move forward with these conversations, please get in touch with Carl Schroeder, 360-485-7604.