Eighty-nine clean water projects across Washington are in line to receive $215 million in state assistance, including nearly $4 million for six local projects.
The Washington State Department of Ecology last week released its draft list of grant and loan recipients. The list will be vetted through a public comment period and Feb. 5 meeting in Tacoma before the state issues a final version, most likely in early July.
The Ecology Department proposes to provide financial assistance to help communities upgrade sewage treatment systems, manage polluted stormwater, and prevent and clean up nonpoint pollution, or contamination that doesn’t flow from a single pipe.
The Ecology Department considers polluted stormwater to be the biggest threat to waterways, streambeds, river banks and aquatic habitats in urban areas.
When rain hits roads, parking lots, roofs and other hard surfaces, the water runs downhill and collects fertilizers and herbicides, pet waste and livestock manure, and contaminants from automobiles.
This polluted brew flows into storm drains, roadside ditches and other parts of the stormwater system and can be carried untreated to natural waterways, where it harms fish and degrades aquatic habitat.
Among the six local projects, the city of Vancouver is slated to receive two grants totaling $3.25 million for retrofits to existing stormwater infrastructure.
The state proposes to provide a $1.86 million grant for the city’s Simpson & Thompson retrofits in older residential areas and streets in west Vancouver near the Columbia River that currently discharge untreated storm runoff. The project will use low-impact development, where stormwater is treated with rain gardens, permeable pavements and other techniques that mimic natural processes to filter and remove pollutants.
Vancouver also is in line to receive a $1.39 million grant for stormwater retrofits near Southwest Columbia Way, south of state Highway 14. Existing storm drains will be improved using best management practices, which offer the most effective and practical techniques to treat polluted runoff prior to it reaching waterways.
Four other projects in Clark County have been selected to receive smaller state grants:
• The city of Battle Ground will receive a proposed $250,000 to expand its decant facility, which processes street sweepings and liquid waste removed from storm drains. Expanding the decant facility will allow Battle Ground to remove more dirt, debris and other pollutants from streets and prevent that material being washed into surface waters.
• Clark County was selected for a $170,064 grant for its Schriber reforestation project along the East Fork of the Lewis River south of La Center. The project will plant trees and shrubs on 12 1/4 acres of county-owned property along nearly 4,000 feet on the river’s south bank. Portions of the southern bank are dominated by reed canary grass, an invasive species that squeezes out other vegetation to create a monoculture that does little to improve water quality and wildlife habitat.
• The Watershed Alliance of Southwest Washington is in line to receive $162,341 to improve shade and reduce water temperatures along Manley Creek, a tributary to the East Fork of the Lewis River northwest of Battle Ground. The Watershed Alliance will create a 100-foot-wide riparian forest corridor on 2,400 feet of Manley Creek.
• Clark County will receive a proposed $132,285 grant for wetland restoration and other improvements at the 78th Street Heritage Farm in Hazel Dell. The project, near the headwaters for Cougar Creek, also will help maintain cool summer flows downstream to Salmon Creek.