City gears up for storm water Phase II

Too much water spells trouble.

Storm water can destroy property, erode landscapes and pollute entire water systems, which is why managing storm water is in a municipality’s best interest and why on April 7 Sequim’s Public Works director Jim Bay asked the city council to establish a storm water utilities fund.

The fund would assist the city in implementing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Phase II regulations that would impact properties throughout the valley.

All of this can cost a lot of money. According to Bay, the city already charges to review storm water pollution prevention plans, as well as requiring a fee in exchange for grading and erosion control permits. Bay said, however, that such fees won’t cover the implementation of Phase II. Bay stressed that along with an ordinance to adopt Phase II and establish user fees, the city should create a storm water utility fund.

“It’s very expensive to take care of storm water,” Bay said. “We’re going to have to do it someday.”

The utility fund, Bay said, would enable the city to successfully operate and maintain Phase II once it was adopted by the city. The user fees would be split into two categories. One would include “all impervious surfaces of single-family residences, duplexes, commercial and/or industrial” and the other would be a general user fee imposed on all property owners within the city of Sequim.

The pollutant discharge system is a federally mandated permit program to ensure the least amount of pollutants goes into the country’s water sources. It does it by regulating certain sources of storm water runoff.

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System regulations are divided into Phase I and II.

Phase I targets municipalities with populations of 100,000 or more, larger industries such as manufacturers and factories and construction sites consisting of five or more acres.

Phase II targets all public entities, regardless of population, that have a separate storm water sewer system, as well as construction sites of more than one acre.

Sequim has adopted and practices Phase I but it has not yet adopted Phase II regulations, according to Bay. “Although we are not at Phase II yet, we will be sooner or later,” Bay said.

According to Bay, Phase II permits require a number of Best Management Practices from structural — such as detention ponds, sand filters or infiltration basins — to non-structural, such as education and outreach programs; passage of specific ordinances and constant maintenance.

“This really needs to be established or everything comes out of your general fund,” Bay said.

Bay also stressed that the city should look at working with the county regarding storm water management.

“I think it’s all of us. None of us have a fund to help support us,” Bay said. “We’re not a little island here. We’re impacted by the county and we should be looking at this as an area-wide project.”

No action on the proposal was taken at the April 7 meeting.

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