$109 million in financial assistance is going to 54 clean water projects throughout the state. Local projects are going unfunded.
The projects moving forward are part of an ongoing effort to “protect the health of lakes, rivers, streams, marine waters, and the groundwater we drink.”
The 3 local projects currently going unfunded included:
- Partner with the Grays Harbor County Conservation District (CD) to develop a Pollution Identification and Control (PIC) plan and Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) in order to track down sources of fecal coliform bacteria and provide information and resources to aid land owners in implementing appropriate remedial actions.
- The City of Ilwaco – Indian Creek Non-Point Pollution Prevention Project is located on 700 acres of City-owned land in SW Washington. It will develop an Indian Creek Watershed and Drinking Water Source Protection Plan that will result in a healthy, sustainable watershed with lower water pollution levels, particularly sediment and nutrients. It will benefit water quality and human health.
- Construct a new channel for Stringer Creek downstream of a new barrier removal project. The stream restoration portion of the project will restore natural stream processes & functions including: fish passage, access to floodplain, channel construction, LWD, pools & riffles, riparian habitat, spawning gravels & replant the entire riparian area. The addition of meanders, pools & riffles, large woody debris, & access to the floodplain will provide the stream & fish with increased habitat diversity.
The Washington Department of Ecology said in a release that the funding was made available to local governments, tribes, special purpose districts, conservation districts and non-profits and comes from funds dedicated for water quality improvement and protection.
“Our funding protects clean water that everybody relies on. Nearly 70 percent of Ecology’s budget is passed through to local communities to pay for projects that benefit the environment,” said Heather Bartlett, manager of Ecology’s Water Quality Program.
Most of the money, $96 million, will pay for 26 essential wastewater treatment facility projects. Nine of these projects are in communities that qualify for financial hardship status. They will receive forgivable principal loans (loans that do not need to be paid back), Centennial grants, and loans with interest rates as low as 0.1 percent.
The hardship communities are:
- Dryden and Peshastin (a combined project)
- King County – two projects for Valley View Sewer District in Tukwila
- Oak Harbor
- Sequim (two projects)
Seven projects will split $3.7 million from the Stormwater Financial Assistance Program to focus on reducing polluted stormwater runoff, which continues to be the largest threat to urban waters. Among the highest-priority stormwater projects is a project in Clarkston that will receive a $460,000 grant to retain and infiltrate stormwater using low-impact development techniques. Five of the seven projects are in Spokane or Spokane County.
Seventeen projects will get $5.3 million in grants and loans to address nonpoint pollution that comes from widespread, hard-to-trace activities. Some examples of these projects are:
- Skagit County Public Utility District No. 1 will receive a $1.6 million loan from the State Revolving Fund to purchase forested land above Gilligan Creek to protect public drinking water. The project will reduce risks of sediment delivery, chemical pollution, temperature impacts, and landslides to the stream.
- The Nooksack Indian Tribewill receive $139,000 to restore 51 acres of forest along the South Fork Nooksack River. Mature trees will shade and cool the river, help filter pollution, and create large woody debris for salmon habitat and natural stream function.
- Foster Creek Conservation District in Douglas Countywill receive a $250,000 grant to provide assistance to local dry land wheat, canola and grain producers helping them to move from conventional tillage methods to direct-seed/no-till systems. The project is designed to improve the water quality in local streams and tributaries by significantly reducing agricultural sediment erosion.
Funding is down from the original $137 million proposed for 103 projects in January 2016 due, in part, to declining oil prices that drew down the hazardous substance tax fund that pays for stormwater projects. While this funding was delayed, Ecology anticipates seeking its restoration.
State financial managers calculate that 11 direct and indirect jobs are created in Washington for every $1 million spent on building clean water infrastructure. Using this calculation, the funding will support more than 1,100 jobs, with one-third of them as construction jobs.