NATIONAL OPINION: New rules from Ecology will be phased in

By Seattle Times

The Washington Department of Ecology has ramped up the fight to protect Washington’s lakes, streams and waterways from polluted runoff from commercial and residential development.
The Aug. 1 release of revised permits, directives and manuals to reduce stormwater runoff and promote low-impact development is part of a five-year cycle. The state has focused on stormwater since the 1990s.
Ecology is acting under a federal imperative as old as the Clean Water Act, which was enacted 40 years ago. Stormwater became the focus after successful efforts to clean up industrial pollution. Stormwater scours streets and parking lots of their toxic stew of pollutants.
Curbing runoff and keeping stormwater closer to where it falls began in the state’s largest urban environments, and has been phased into the development and redevelopment plans in smaller cities and towns.
The new requirements for stormwater management represent changes and improvements to be incorporated into building codes and ordinances, and taught to regulators and developers alike. They are not radically different from what is already on the books, but the next step.
Rain gardens, permeable pavers and pervious concrete are some of the terms of art for capturing stormwater, holding it in place and keeping it out of waterways. Washington State University has been a leader in developing and refining low-impact development.
New rules will be introduced in phases, with a year delay west of the Cascades and two years on the east side. The Legislature provided $5 million to introduce the new rules over the next five years.
One new feature of the state’s low-impact development directives is an emphasis on water-quality monitoring: checking those receiving waterways to measure and monitor pollution levels.
Adequate lead time, an abundant supply of guidance and consultation, and some financial relief make this necessary work easier to manage.
The Seattle Times

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