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State sending millions to cities, counties to fight stormwater | Washington Department of Ecology

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is sending millions of dollars across the state to help cities and counties curb the chief threat to urban waters – polluted stormwater runoff.

The funding helps the state’s most populated areas carry out their required stormwater permit programs. And it helps local governments to plan, build and improve stormwater projects.

Here’s how the money is rolling out:

Ecology is providing $7.6 million in a supplemental stormwater grant program for 16 projects. This is unspent money from previous stormwater grant funding programs. The money will be spent on retrofit or low impact development projects.

Retrofit projects correct deficiencies in older, existing stormwater infrastructure. Low impact development projects use vegetation, healthy soils, porous pavement and other techniques to keep stormwater runoff on-site.

Also, Ecology’s operating budget is providing pass-through funding to stormwater permitted cities and counties in a municipal stormwater “capacity” grant program. In this, 117 cities and counties will each receive $50,000. Capacity grants help local governments run their stormwater programs.

New, $100 million stormwater program

The best news for cities and counties is that the 2013-15 state capital budget provides $100 million for stormwater improvements under a new funding account called  the Environment Legacy Stewardship Account (ELSA). The fund was created by a one-time transfer of money from the state and local toxics accounts.

Of the $100 million:

 

• Ecology will spend $150,000 to develop and implement an ongoing, long-term competitive stormwater grant program to be implemented in September 2014. Under this, the state will provide $66 million for high-priority stormwater retrofit projects.

• Each of 117 cities and counties covered by municipal stormwater permits may accept up to $120,000 for stormwater project planning and design activities. Cities and counties who get this project-specific planning and design funding may then apply for additional funding for the construction projects in a competitive funding program Ecology will offer in September 2014. This is the first time the state has offered funds for stormwater pre-construction activities.

• $18.7 million is awarded for local stormwater projects as provisioned by state lawmakers.

• Ecology will spend a small portion of the $100 million to cover its costs to run the funding programs.

Find out more by going to Ecology’s water quality grants and loans website.

For more information:

Cities and counties covered by municipal stormwater permits (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/stormwater/municipal/MuniStrmWtrPermList.html)

Ecology Water Quality Program (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/wqhome.html)

Ecology’s social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)

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