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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Jim Bachmeier, Water Resources Program Manager, 754-4275

Open house on county stormwater program and rates set for June 30

OLYMPIA – Learn about Thurston County 's Water Resources Program at an open house on Tuesday, June 30, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Tenino Middle School , 301 Old Highway 99 .  The open house will include information about county programs to protect groundwater, rivers, streams and Puget Sound from polluted stormwater runoff.  A proposal to gradually increase county stormwater utility rates to meet new federal permitting requirements will also be presented at the meeting.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency now requires cities and counties of a certain size to adopt stormwater management programs to reduce the amount of pollution that enters water bodies. Thurston County officials say they're considering the rate increase to improve the county's ability to meet those extensive mandates.

Under the proposal, the base stormwater rate for an average single-family residence would increase from the current equivalent of $2.75 per month to $3.70 per month in 2010, and continue to increase gradually up to $5.33 per month in 2014. Commercial properties would also see an increase, but the rates could be offset by a proposed credit program to reward commercial property owners who take extra steps to reduce polluted stormwater runoff.

The proposal would affect only the base stormwater rate, which pays for programs and services. A separate, existing capital rate that finances stormwater construction projects would remain unchanged. The two rates appear as a single item on property tax statements every year.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has named stormwater runoff as the leading cause of pollution in the nation's waterways. Stormwater runoff washes pesticides, fertilizers, motor oils and other contaminants into water bodies through storm drains and other conveyances.

"Our rivers and streams might look beautiful, but they're contaminated with pollutants left on the ground," said Jim Bachmeier, manager of the Thurston County Water Resources Program. "It's extremely expensive to clean up pollution. Prevention is much more affordable and it helps protect the water resources that make Thurston County such a great place to live."

County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3