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News / Clark County News

Millions flow in for clean water

State awards more than $2 million for projects around Clark County

By Dameon Pesanti, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 23, 2018, 10:18pm
2 Photos
A rain garden, also known as a bioretention facility, is pictured along Northeast 98th Avenue in Vancouver’s Oakbrook Neighborhood. Rain gardens improve stormwater quality by filtering out some pollutants that would otherwise go into streams and other waterways. The Department of Ecology recently offered $220 million in funding to build clean water facilities around the state.
A rain garden, also known as a bioretention facility, is pictured along Northeast 98th Avenue in Vancouver’s Oakbrook Neighborhood. Rain gardens improve stormwater quality by filtering out some pollutants that would otherwise go into streams and other waterways. The Department of Ecology recently offered $220 million in funding to build clean water facilities around the state. Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian Photo Gallery

The state Department of Ecology has awarded more than $2 million for clean-water projects in Clark County.

Most of that money will go to the city of Vancouver — about $1.9 million — to help pay for four projects. The remainder, about $165,000, will go to the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership.

“Future projects supported by the Ecology grants will help boost our efforts to protect surface and ground water, improve water quality and address stormwater runoff,” said Annette Griffy, manager of the city of Vancouver Public Works Surface Water Management Program. “The city recently received letters from the state Department of Ecology committing to negotiating and signing funding agreements by Sept. 30, 2018. We look forward to working with Ecology on efforts to continue to carry Vancouver projects forward.”

The money will help the city build 13 bioretention facilities, such as rain gardens, along the north side of Northeast Fourth Plain Boulevard between Northeast 124th Avenue and Northeast 131st Avenue; expand a private stormwater facility inspection program; support analysis and modeling to prioritize four to five retrofit projects in the Burton Channel basin; and improve water quality in Burnt Bridge Creek by redirecting street runoff into treatment facilities.

The Estuary Partnership plans to use its money to re-establish native riparian and wetland vegetation within four acres of the Salmon Creek Greenway, as well as offer educational services to teachers and area students.

Stormwater quickly becomes polluted when it flows over roads, roofs or fertilized lawns. Toxic materials picked up and carried in the water can find their way into streams, rivers and lakes, posing an environmental risk to wildlife such as migratory salmon.

Statewide, Ecology awarded $220 million in clean water grants and loans to help finance 230 high-priority, clean-water projects.

“Local communities depend on these grants and loans to protect water quality and maintain vital wastewater infrastructure,” Ecology Director Maia Bellon said in a news release. “These projects, and the jobs they’ll create, really make a difference economically and environmentally.”

The funding was delayed because the state Legislature failed to pass a capital budget before they adjourned in July 2017. These grants and another roughly $4 billion for other construction projects hung in limbo until January, when the Legislature passed the 2017-19 capital budget during the short session.

According to a news release, 67 stormwater projects statewide were delayed from fiscal years 2016, and 17 will get nearly $39 million in grants. About $110 million will go to 30 wastewater treatment projects. Of those, 13 qualified for special hardship financial assistance because of the potential impact on sewer ratepayers. A total of $16 million in grants and loans is going to 35 projects to address nonpoint pollution that comes from widespread, hard-to-trace sources. Ecology offered $45 million in grants and loans to 96 communities for stormwater reduction projects. Two projects will receive $9 million to repair or replace on-site sewage systems.

Dameon Pesanti: 360-735-4541; dameon.pesanti@columbian.com; twitter.com/dameonoemad

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Columbian staff writer