Court of Appeals hears stormwater arguments in Clark County case

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A dispute over how Clark County must manage polluted runoff was argued Monday before a three-judge panel from the state Court of Appeals, Division II, in Tacoma.

Each side was given 15 minutes.

The county’s struggle over a stormwater rule, which says newly developed land drain as slowly as it did prior to Euro-American settlement, dates to 2007 when the state Department of Ecology made it a requirement.

First, commissioners adopted a different ordinance and were put on notice by the state they were in violation of their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. Commissioners compromised and adopted a new plan that said the developer can’t make runoff any worse and the county will make up the difference by making off-site watershed improvements at public expense.

Three groups — the Rosemere Neighborhood Association, Columbia Riverkeeper and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center — challenged the compromise to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board. The board ruled that the county’s plan doesn’t provide equal protection to waterways.

The county appealed and was joined by the Building Industry Association of Clark County.

Bronson Potter, Clark County’s chief civil deputy prosecutor, said Monday he expects a ruling from the Court of Appeals in two to three months.

Meanwhile, the county remains under a federal injunction to follow the state’s default method for handling polluted runoff.