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Washington state reveals proposals for stormwater project funding

OLYMPIA - Washington state is seeking input on the next round of funding to help local governments control stormwater run-off.

To that end, the Department of Ecology has opened a public comment period on a new round of funding to help local governments in the state's urban areas design and build projects to prevent and control polluted runoff.

The stormater requirements apply to counties and municipalities with a population of 10,000 or more.

The cities of Sunnyside, Union Gap and Yakima, along with Yakima County, are subject to the requirements. In Census results from 2010, Grandview's population also topped 10,000 people.

The fiscal year 2012 Statewide Stormwater Grant Program is a competitive grant program that provides funding to cities, towns, counties and ports covered by the Phase I and II municipal stormwater permits.

Phase I and II refer to the first and second-most populated areas of the state. These are urban areas where polluted runoff is the biggest threat to water quality. Stormwater permits in these areas require local governments to prevent and control rainwater runoff.

Runoff from hardened surfaces in populated areas picks up chemicals and bacteria and carries it downstream. State officials say most of the time stormwater is not treated, even when it goes into a street drain.

The funding is solely for construction or design/construction projects that result in the greatest improvements to meet municipal stormwater permit requirements.

The final amount of funding and the final list of funding recipients will be announced after the final state budget is adopted at the end of this legislative session.

The original appropriation was $30 million, but the program could be reduced to $8 million to help address the state revenue shortfall.

A total of 104 projects were ranked in the competitive application process, with the city of Clarkston's project ranked first with a score of 908. That project is seeking a total of $147,656.

Applications are graded based on criteria that includes the quality of the project proposed, the budget for the project, readiness to proceed and the water quality protection it provides.

The highest graded project application from Central Washington was a $450,000 stormwater facility project sought by the city of Ellensburg. That project was ranked fourth with 863 points.

Only two projects from Yakima County were on the list of applicants.

The highest rated project, listed as 42nd, was proposed by Yakima County to eliminate stormwater pollution by retrofitting or eliminating most of the county's regulated outfalls.

The other project from this county, ranked 103rd, was submitted by the city of Yakima and addresses stormwater flooding in the area of 88th Avenue.

According to the Department of Ecology, there will be no money available for either project in Yakima County after higher rated projects are funded.

Municipalities that receive stormwater funding from the program are required to provide 25 percent matching funds.

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