Stormwater Management Plan carries far more restrictions on land than meets the eye

by Sue Forde, Citizen Review Online

Clallam County, WA - June 5, 2002– Clallam County Commissioners have begun the first steps toward developing a “Stormwater Management Plan” for the county.  County Commissioner

 Steve Tharinger (D)[1] was quoted as saying, “[Stormwater] is a major impact on the ecosystem and it’s something we need to address….The concept of living downstream is very apparent here.”[2]

Just last month, the city of Port Angeles went to work on their Stormwater Management Plan, but the process was postponed because of an outcry from the local citizens.  

Clallam County Commissioner 
Steve Tharinger

The city had proposed a stormwater utility charge that could range from $6-8 per month on residences; and as much as $76 per month for some businesses. 

 “How are people on limited incomes going to pay this charge” asked resident Lavonne Huffman, noting residents are already facing increased electricity prices and will incur other charges for a new landfill and water treatment plant.[3]  The city council finally decided to postpone the matter until sometime in July.  Meanwhile, the city of Sequim quietly passed their own stormwater legislation.

The flurry of activity around developing stormwater management plans stems from the state Department of Ecology (DOE).  The Ecology stormwater manual was originally developed it in 1992 in response to a “directive” of the Puget Sound Water Quality Management Plan.”[4]

There is much more lurking within the pages of the “suggested” stormwater management plan issued by the DOE, however.  The state agency has issued five volumes –consisting of 1,033 pages of rules and regulations dealing with “stormwater management" for Western Washington.  They are currently working on one for Eastern Washington.[5] 

The geographic scope was expanded to include all of Western Washington because of “new federal regulations under the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, as well as state regulations under the Growth Management Act,” making it “necessary” to expand the scope to include regions outside Puget Sound.[6] 

The manual itself, we are told, has no independent authority.  Instead, local governments are instructed to create ordinances and rules create this new level of regulation, along with “permits and other authorizations used by local, state and federal authorities.”[7]

The “users” of the manual will be “engineers, planners, environmental scientists, plan reviewers and inspectors at the local, state, and federal government levels and private industry.” [8]

Cities and counties have been furnished these "suggested" regulations, with the option of passing them as written or developing their own, comparable regulations.  Faced with such a daunting task, cities like Sequim, Washington, have simply passed the regulations as written, often without even reading through them.

We are told that adoption of either Ecology’s manual or an equivalent one is required for “all municipalities currently covered under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Stormwater Permit.[9]

As is typical with many of the rules and regulations these days, the need for such are built upon "models".  Models have been proven as an unreliable and unscientific method of reaching conclusions, in that they can be tweaked according to the predetermined outcomes desired.

Stormwater defined

The DOE’s manual says that “Stormwater is the water that runs off surfaces such as rooftops, paved streets, highways, and parking lots. It can also come from hard grassy surfaces like lawns, play fields, and from graveled roads and parking lots.

“Urban development causes significant changes in patterns of stormwater flow from land into receiving waters. Water quality can be harmed when runoff carries contaminants such as oil, metals or pesticides into streams, wetlands, lakes, and marine waters or into ground water. Better managing stormwater runoff helps to reduce this significant pollution problem that makes waterways unhealthy for people and fish,” the manual states.

Limits on Human Dwellings and Lawns

The “suggested” rules include such items as minimum requirements for the “footprint” of homes.  If more than 2,000 square feet of “impervious surface” is utilized (this would include your home, garage, any outbuildings, patio, driveway, etc.[10], then a “Stormwater Site Plan” must be prepared and submitted for government review and approval.[11]

The “Stormwater Site Plan” is a “comprehensive report that describes existing site conditions, explains development plans, examines potential offsite effects, identifies applicable Minimum Requirements, and proposes stormwater controls for both the construction phase and long-term stormwater management.”  (How much do you think that will cost a homeowner??)  Next, the owner/developer “submits the Stormwater Site Plan to state and local permitting authorities with jurisdiction, who use the plan to evaluate a proposed project for compliance with stormwater requirements.” (Money and time.  Time is money, especially when you’re paying interest on a construction loan.  It seems that there is a move here to discourage folks from building new homes.)

This includes landscaping and roadways in additions to the buildings around your new home.  Local governments are directed to develop and implement a program to control sources of pollutants from new development and redevelopment projects and from existing developed lands…source control activities are to include pollution from roadways and landscaping activities.”  So how are the local governments supposed to pay for this “source control”?  You guessed it:  new taxes and fees!  

“Local governments are directed to adopt ordinances that allow and encourage “low impact development practices.”[12]  Can you say, high-rise apartments? “The goals are to enhance overall habitat functions…maintain historic in-stream flows…”   The Olympic Mountains can be seen from the Dungeness Valley, where there's only 16 inches of rain a year.

Photo by Sue Forde

“The Plan directs local government to participate in watershed or basin planning processes…basin plans are to address water quality, aquatic habitat, ground water recharge and water re-use.” [13]  

The counties and cities are “directed to incorporate recommendations from watershed or basin plans…into their stormwater programs, land use comprehensive plans and site development ordinances.”[14]  

The “watershed council”, comprised primarily of agency types, are placed into a “shadow government” role.

Local government is directed to “monitor” the “implementation and environmental conditions and trends over time” and will “share monitoring results with local and state agencies…”

If the local governments decide to create their own stormwater manual, they are required to submit it to DOE for approval.  (Since when does an unelected agency have authority over locally elected representatives?)

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) has a “dramatic effect” on stormwater rules.[15]

Citizens should take the time to notify their elected representatives of their concerns about the document, and urge them to read it in its entirety before arbitrarily passing it into law for their city or county.

Aw, but there’s more!

The DOE’s manual offers reasoning behind their onerous plans.  “Prior to Euro-American settlement…the area’s bountiful rainfall supported the forest and the many creeks….As settlement occurs and the population grows, trees are logged and land is cleared for the addition of impervious surfaces such as rooftops, roads, parking lots, and sidewalks.”[16]  Aw, it’s us evil humans – we’re the problem!  Roads – and cars – especially, are to blame for “contaminating” with “non-point source pollution”.  (That’s pollution they can’t account for, not knowing exactly where it comes from – but the finger is pointed at the humans as the main problem!)  We’re to blame for changes in water temperature, too.  “Urbanization also tends to cause changes in water temperature.  Heated stormwater from impervious surfaces…discharges to streams with less riparian vegetation for shade…”A rise in water temperature can have direct lethal effects.” [17]

The engineered stormwater systems (which are accomplished at great cost to all of us, landowners, homeowners and taxpayers alike), can “reduce the impacts…but they cannot replicate the natural hydrologic functions of the natural watershed that existed before development.”[18] 

It’s those cars!!

“Surfaces created to provide ‘car habitat’ comprise the greatest portion of impervious areas in land development.  Therefore, to make appreciable progress in reducing impervious surfaces in a watershed, we must reduce the density of our road systems, alter our road construction standards, reduce surface parking, and rely more on transportation systems that do not require such extensive impervious surfaces (rail, bicycles, walking).”[19] (See articles on the trails)

Tie-in to the United Nations

The Global Biodiversity Assessment (GBA)[20] states that “urbanization” has a direct effect on biodiversity “(the loss of habitat; the fragmentation of habitat; the creation of new human-made habitats such as cemeteries…) and the indirect effects it has through covering “the urban landscape with impervious surfaces and these have a dramatic effect on runoff, an effect which is exacerbated by extensive sewers and drain systems.”[21]  The major cause of “biodiversity” loss…is “human action, primarily land use that alters and degrades habitat to serve human needs.”[22]   (This includes farming, irrigation, and building homes.)

The “solution” to this “problem” is in “building sustainable human societies…, we will still face the problem of how to control destructive human behavior.” [23]   “Human activities will have to be regulated…[24]  “States will have ‘police powers’ to control human activities in the general interest.”[25]

These rules and regulations use the “precautionary principle” – which is using ‘risk averse’ behaviour in the face of uncertainty and lack of full scientific knowledge.”[26]    In other words, they’re “guessing” about what steps to take to “save the environment.”

Restrictions established for its [biodiversity’s] conservation, moreover, impinge on rights that are often enshrined in constitutional provisions, such as free enterprise, property ownership and economic development….these are still almost universally relied upon to protect species and ecosystems.”[27]

“Legislation should facilitate government land acquisition for conservation purposes by instituting a right of pre-acquisition over land coming on the market, a right of compulsory purchase, and tax incentives for vendors.”[28]

“Comprehensive planning” is used to achieve the goals of regulating and removing property from private ownership.  Public acquisition, public ‘investment’, incentives and regulation are the methods used. [29]

“Unsustainable” projects include dam removal, straightening rivers, and non-point-source pollution.[30]

“Urbanization processes have increased, with a higher degree of artificialization.  Simple shelters that once involved wooden poles and hides, or just shallow caves, have developed into enormous human-made caves of brick and mortar, concrete and steel.  Simple beaten footpaths have been converted into kilometer after kilometer of paved and tarred roads.”[31]

“Humans have been engaged…in steadily improving technology and expanding the range of biological resources useful to people.  This has inevitably been accompanied by a retreat of the natural world; and an erosion of biodiversity…”[32]

“Irrigation has continued to play a role in agricultural activities world-wide and WRI (World Resource Institute, chaired by none other than William Ruckleshaus), estimates that it is the largest consumer of fresh water on a global scale, consuming 2.5 times more than industry and accounting for 63% of water withdrawal globally.  Over the last few decades it has played a vital role in the dramatic increase in food production…for example, estimated that 55% of the world’s rice areas rely on irrigation.  (Unsustainable, don’t ya know.)[33]   “…expanding human consumption of resources…means fewer resources will be available for other species.”[34]

Stormwater Management Plans and similar schemes (growth management, “smart growth”, critical areas ordinances, shoreline protection acts, etc.) are being implemented in every community across the United States.  If you see one coming up in your area, get hold of the document (it will probably be on the internet), and take time to read through it; then compare with the U.N. documents, and share this information with your elected representatives.  They probably don’t have the time to educate themselves; if we are to regain the freedoms our forefathers died for, we must get involved at the local levels.

Recently, there was a report of a county in Oregon which passed an ordinance to prevent the United Nations from entering their communities.  Sadly, the U.N. has already infiltrated our communities through the myriad of agency’s rules and regulations which are nothing more than replicas of the U.N. documents that would destroy America and bring it to a third-world status.  It’s socialism at its best – and because it’s subtle, most people are unaware.  The responsibility lies on those of us who have become aware; we need to educate others and take action with letters, testimony and at the ballot box.

Note:  One of our local county commissioners has advised us that this set of regulations originated from a law passed by the legislature: RCW 90.71.070 was the reference he gave.  I went to this RCW, which reads: 

RCW 90.71.070 - Work plan implementation.

(1) Local governments are required to implement local elements of the work plan subject to the availability of appropriated funds or other funding sources.

(2) The council shall review the progress of work plan implementation. Where prescribed actions have not been accomplished in accordance with the work plan, the responsible agency shall submit to the council written explanations for the shortfalls, together with proposed remedies.

That's it.  A far cry from the 1,130 pages of rules and regulations that take away so many aspects of private property ownership and will increase the tax burden on every citizen! The entire RCW relating to this issue is reprinted here.

DOE Stormwater Manual Workshop Materials can be found here 

[1] Tharinger serves as a voting member on the SRFB [Salmon Recovery Funding Board] with Chairman William Ruckleshaus, former head of the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] who brought about the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and who served on the President’s Council of Sustainable Development.  Ruckleshaus currently heads the WRI (World Resources Institute), a United Nations organization promoting “sustainable development.”  He has taken great interest in the advancement of sustainable development on the North Olympic Peninsula, which includes Clallam County.

[2] Sequim Gazette, June 5, 2002 – A-10 “Planners look at stormwater – County study likely to yield stricter standards”

[3] Peninsula Daily News, “Foes to proposed fee appear: Just another tax, one tells public meeting, 5/1/02

[4] The Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington was prepared by Washington State Department of Ecology Water Quality Program in August 2001, page 3.  (The Puget Sound Water Quality Management “Team” -comprised of agency people, all appointed by the governor (an unelected, unaccountable board)- is one step up from the local “watershed council” – the DRMT. {Dungeness River Management Team]) 

[5] The manual in its entirety can be downloaded at  (The Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington was prepared by Washington State Department of Ecology Water Quality Program in August 2001.)  It states that “urban development causes significant changes in patterns of stormwater flow from land into receiving waters.  Water quality can be affected when runoff carries sediment or other pollutants into streams, wetlands, lakes and marine waters or into ground water.  Stormwater ‘management’ can help to reduce these effects.”

[6] Ibid, page 4.

[7] Ibid, page 5.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid, page 39.

[11] Ibid, page 15 - 

[12] Ibid page 20.

[13] Ibid

[14] Ibid, page 21

[15] Ibid, page 24

[16] Ibid, page 1-17, Section 1.7 Effects of Urbanization

[17] Ibid, 1-20

[18] Ibid 1-21

[19] Ibid, I-22

[20] The Global Biodiversity Assessment (GBA) is the expansion of the U.N. Biodiversity Treaty.  See River Owners Balk at Selling Out, Citizen Review Online

[21] Global Biodiversity Assessment, page 774, Chap.

[22] Ibid, page 783, Chapter 11.2.4

[23] Ibid page 784, Chap. 11.3.1

[24] Ibid, Executive Summary, page 921

[25] Ibid, page 1039, Chapter

[26] Ibid page 837, Chapter

[27] Ibid, page 1037, Chapter 13.6.1

[28] Ibid, page 1040, Chap.

[29] Ibid, page 1041; Chapter

[30] Ibid, page 751, Chap.

[31] Ibid, page 730, Chap. 11.1.5

[32] Ibid page 733, Chap. 11.1.7

[33] Ibid, page 745, Chap.

[34] Ibid page 730; Chap. 11.1.5