faces push to “fast track” stormwater regs
– Members raise questions about increased
taxes, costs to property owners
Sue Forde, Citizen Review Online
Clallam County, WA - August
2, 2002 – Property owners and taxpayers in
Clallam County may be facing the most stringent,
costly regulations yet, if a proposed stormwater
management plan gets passed by the county
The Clallam County Planning
Commission (PC) has been working on a stormwater
management plan to comply with the Washington
State Department of Ecology’s (DOE) “model”
to DOE, the plan must comply with the
“stormwater element” of the Puget Sound Water
Quality Management Plan (PSWQMP) – an
all-encompassing plan calling for planning,
restoration, monitoring and enforcement to
“protect the environment.”
The documents presented for
the workshop consist of approximately 42 pages;
however, the “model” plan prepared by the
state Department of Ecology, contains some 1,033
pages of rules and regulations!
A “speaker presentation”
has been set for Wednesday, August 7 beginning at
planning commission meeting will start at 6 p.m.
Four speakers will present the information
about the proposed plan, including Valerie
Wilson, Clallam County Department of Community
Development, Natural Resources Division; John
Cambalik, Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team
(Local Liaison); Ed O’Brien, Washington State
Department of Ecology; and Barbara Kitchens,
Regional Government Affair Director, Washington
Association of Realtors.
Wilson will inform the
audience why local management problems support a
“more stringent and comprehensive approach to
local stormwater management, which include
“non-point pollution sources”, and
“irrigation systems used for stormwater
Cambalik will talk about
local stormwater management rules, including
timelines, and potential impacts to local
governments for not complying, which include
penalties (e.g. funding for road projects), and
failure to qualify for state/federal grants/loans
and/or be less competitive in such programs.
According to the program
outline, the Planning Commission feels that an
understanding of the cost and benefits of local
adoption of more stringent rules is critical to
obtaining “community buy-in to adopting and
paying for new stormwater management rules.”
There are potential
additional costs to the developer and landowner
in complying with more stringent standards, and
there is increased cost to local jurisdictions
and taxpayers to pay for administration of local
programs, according to Cambalik. He will discuss
upcoming state or federal grants that are
available to help pay for initial program
administration (i.e. staffing for plan review,
inspections, monitoring and enforcement.)
O’Brien will talk about
the DOE’s “model” stormwater management
manual for Western Washington, and why the
threshold for “land disturbing activities” is
“very restrictive” in comparison to previous
affected will be as small as one acre under the
O’Brien will answer
questions raised about whether local governments
will be expected to regulate ALL land disturbing
activities, including such actions as adding a
patio to an existing single-family dwelling,
rototilling lawn/garden, converting pasture to
lawn, etc. will be regulated.
He’ll also talk about
preparation of “Stormwater Site Plans (SSP)”,
and who prepares them, typical costs, and level
of expertise necessary to prepare one.
An example offered on a typical Sequim
area residence is “construction and land
disturbing activities related to a single-family
residential and accessory uses (e.g. driveway,
lawn, etc) on a typical rural size lot (1 to 5
acres) previously farmed (none or little native
vegetation remains) that contain well-drained
soils, located within the low rainfall areas of
eastern Clallam County.”
The regulations will
apparently cover virtually everyone who owns an
acre or more of property.
Cambalik will talk about the possibility
of using “standard plans/conditions” for
single-family home construction and accessory
uses and other small-scale land disturbing
activities to be used in lieu of SSP.”
He’ll also bring out what steps
landowners can take to save on the cost of
preparing and implementing SSP’s, and will
address the “typical local staffing and
administration needs and program costs to
effectively conduct plan review, inspection,
monitoring, and enforcement in compliance with
the 2001 Manual for a jurisdiction the size of
In reviewing the Stormwater Maintenance” section of the model Plan, several items are of note:
1) Whichever County Code, State or Federal requirement that provides the most environmental protection shall apply;
2) The property owner bears the full responsibility and cost to maintain, repair and renew all private stormwater disposal systems located on their property;
3) If the property owner fails to comply, the city or county may choose to perform the maintenance, and charge the property owner, or condemn the property as a “health and safety nuisance” and assume ownership;
4) Minimum requirements of the model plan include an “annual inspection” – where “lack of maintenance is causing or contributing to a water quality problem, or when any of the conditions described in the Manual exist, correction must be made within one month.
5) Open drainage swales and ditches on private property shall be cleaned, maintained and protected in continuous compliance with the standards and specifications;
6) If there is “cause to believe” that a violation has been or is being committed, the Director is authorized to inspect to determine compliance;
7) If the property owner doesn’t consent to the inspection, the inspector can obtain a search warrant to enter the property.
8) If the owner fails to comply, they will receive a “notice” and a lien on their property. Once notice is given, the assessment will be double the cost of the repairs or maintenance done by the “authorities”.
9) Only government owned property will be exempt;
10) Choice of enforcement action taken and the severity of any penalty shall be based on the nature of the violation, the damage or risk to the public to to public resources, and/or the degree of bad faith of the persons subject to the enforcement action.
11) Failure to comply will result in a civil penalty assessment.
12) Penalties will continue to be charged for each day of continued violation. Repeated violation shall constitute a separate violation.
13) Any person who, through an act of commission or omission, aids or abets in the violation shall be considered to have committed a violation for the purposes of the civil penalty.
14) Penalty money will go to a fund dedicated to enforcement and/or enhancement of the stormwater management program.
Words Mean Things
The main focus toward which
“stormwater management” is directed is
These include roof tops, walkways, patios,
driveways, parking lots or storage areas,
concrete or asphalt paving, gravel roads or
parking areas, packed earthen materials, and
oiled, macadam or other surfaces.”
“Land clearing” means
destruction or removal of vegetation from a site
by physical, mechanical, chemical or other means.
Mowing, landscape maintenance or pruning
can only be done with “accepted horticultural
and arboricultural practices, which does not
impair the health or survival of the trees and
activities” means any activity that results in
a movement of earth or a change in the existing
soil cover (both vegetative and nonvegetative)
and/or the existing soil topography.
Activities include, but are not limited
to, construction, clearing, grading, filling,
excavation, and compaction that is associated
with stabilization of structures and road
“Pollutant” means any
substance which, when added to water, would
contaminate or alter the chemical, physical, or
biological property of any waters of the drainage
system of the State. This includes change in temperature, taste, color, odors or
anything that will or is likely to create a
nuisance, among others.
“Stormwater” means that
portion of precipitation that does not naturally
percolate into the ground or evaporate, but flows
via overland flow, interflow, pipes or others
features of a stormwater drainage system into a
defined surface waterbody or a constructed
“Watershed” means a geographic region within which water drains into a particular river, stream or body of water as identified and numbered by the State of Washington Water Resource Inventory Areas (WRIAs) as defined in Chapter 173-500 WAC.
Minimum requirements for new
development and “redevelopment” includes the
creation or addition of 2,000 square feet or
greater, of new impervious surface area; or
development that includes land disturbing
activity of 7,000 square feet or greater.
Redevelopment also falls under minimum
requirements if it adds 5,000 square feet or more
of new, replaced, or new plus replaced impervious
surfaces; or converts ¾ acres or more of native
vegetation to lawn or landscaped areas; or that
converts 2.5 acres or more of native vegetation
For road related projects,
minimum requirements shall apply if new
impervious surfaces (including pavement,
shoulders, curbs and sidewalks)
total 5,000 square feet or more, and total
50% or more of the assessed value of the existing
requirements” include: 1) preparation of
stormwater site plans; 2) construction stormwater
pollution prevention; 3) source control of
pollution; 4) preservation of natural drainage
systems and outfalls; 5) on-site stormwater
management; 6) runoff treatment; 7) flow control;
8) wetlands protection; 9) basin/watershed
planning and 10) operation and maintenance.
The details of the minimum requirements
will be very time-consuming and costly.
Fees can be charged for the preliminary
review, construction plan review, inspection, and
final plan review done upon completion of all
civil work and approval of the final plat map.
Consultant fees may also be added, at the
option of the county.
The model plan is contained
in a 1,033-page manual written by the DOE.
Management Plan carries far more restrictions on
land than meets the eye)
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