Stormwater manual emphasizes rain gardens, natural treatments
Ron Wierenga, Environmental Services
Vancouver, WA – Clark County is moving to fully meet rigorous state regulations for controlling the harmful effects of polluted storm runoff.
Last week, Environmental Services Director Don Benton signed a certification letter to submit the county’s draft updated stormwater manual for review by the Washington State Department of Ecology. Submitting the draft is a critical requirement under the county’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Municipal Stormwater Permit, which is issued by the state.
The submittal follows 18 months of community outreach and intensive work to incorporate new state requirements, including low impact development as the county’s required approach to managing stormwater.
Low impact development uses site planning, rain gardens, permeable pavement and natural techniques to manage storm runoff close to where it’s produced, namely where rain hits roads, parking lots, roofs and other hard surfaces.
Without proper stormwater management, runoff carries dirt, oil, fertilizers, pet waste and other contaminants into streams, where they can harm aquatic life. Large amounts of unchecked storm runoff also can cause erosion and other problems in waterways.
The county’s draft stormwater manual seeks to meet state environmental protection regulations while still encouraging economic growth.
“Clark County has tried to strike a balance,” Benton said. “It wasn’t easy, but we think we have developed a manual that complies with state law and improves environmental protection, without erecting unnecessary roadblocks to job creation.”
The state will have 90 days to review and comment on the county’s work. Then, after the public has additional opportunities to review and comment on it, the county will finalize policies and procedures. The Board of County Commissioners is expected to adopt the final manual in 2015.
For more information, visit the county’s website at www.clark.wa.gov/stormwater.