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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, May 10, 2010
Rich Doenges, Water Resources Planning Coordinator, (360) 754-4106 or doenger@co.thurston.wa.us

May 26 open house planned on proposed stormwater ordinance

OLYMPIA–A proposed ordinance to curb illegal dumping in Thurston County stormwater facilities will be the topic of a public open house on May 26 at 6 p.m. at the county Fairgrounds Expo Center, 3054 Carpenter Road in Lacey.

Discharging anything but rain water in a stormwater facility is already prohibited in Thurston County; however, the county must make its ordinance more specific in order to comply with a permit required by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Ecology under the federal Clean Water Act. The permit is known as the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, or "NPDES." Jurisdictions across Washington State and the nation have also been issued permits and are making adjustments to comply with the requirements.

Examples of stormwater facilities include stormwater ponds, swales, ditches, storm drains and other constructed devices that store or convey stormwater runoff from hard surfaces after a rainfall.The proposed ordinance:

Identifies examples of pollutants that are banned from stormwater facilities, like antifreeze, paints and fertilizer.

Prohibits all connections to county-owned stormwater facilities, such as floor drains that connect directly to a stormwater system.

Prohibits using stormwater facilities for any purpose other than managing stormwater runoff, such as parking vehicles or grazing livestock. Exceptions would be made for limited recreational use, like seasonal parks.

Requires commercial and industrial facilities to take measures to prevent spills, and provides a number of options for achieving that goal.

Clarifies Thurston County’s authority to take emergency action to protect the public’s health and safety or the environment.

The proposed ordinance would not change financial penalties, which are already set at $1,000 per violation. Thurston County officials say they intend to use education to help people and businesses comply with the new law and reserve financial penalties for situations where the public’s health, safety or welfare are in danger.

“Many people don’t realize that the oil or carpet-cleaning solution they dump in storm drains ends up in our waterways, and would probably change their behavior if they knew,” said county Water Resources Coordinator Rich Doenges. “The same is true for businesses, although most are already complying with the law under their own construction or business permits. We’ve always used education as our first approach, and we would continue to do so with this ordinance.”

To view a copy of the proposed ordinance, visit http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/stormwater and click on the “stormwater” link.

County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3