State awards Pierce County $2.9 million in stormwater grants

Pierce County will receive $2.9 million in grants from the state to retrofit and build stormwater facilities that prevent pollution.

Public Works and Utilities sought the four Stormwater Retrofit and Low Impact Development (LID) Competitive Grants from the Department of Ecology. Here is a summary of the projects, coordinated by the department’s Stormwater Management Division:

– Spanaway Lake: Retrofitting stormwater facilities at Spanaway Lake Park using bioretention (plants and vegetation) to treat stormwater before it reaches Spanaway Lake and Spanaway Creek.

– Chambers/Clover Creek Basin: Retrofitting up to 100 single-stage drywells, improving surface and ground water quality. The replacement two-stage drywells will capture more pollutants, simplify maintenance requirements and provide the ability to control spills.

– South Hill: Closing the South Hill vactor facility and constructing a vactor waste processing facility at the Public Works and Utilities’ central maintenance facility, which will discharge into Pierce County’s sewer system instead of the vulnerable Chambers/Clover Creek sole source aquifer.

– Clarks Creek: Retrofitting numerous residential and road system impervious areas using a variety of treatment methods (biofiltration, bioretention, infiltration, filtration, hydrodynamic separation and rain gardens).

The grants continue a trend of state funding assistance. Earlier this year, Pierce County received $1.1 million from the state to help fund stormwater maintenance and operations. In 2008, Pierce County received funds to replace parking lot asphalt with low-impact development materials at Sprinker Recreation Center in Spanaway.

“These grants are greatly appreciated and will improve water quality. This is important because clean water is essential for life – both people and animals – as well as economic development;” said Dan Wrye, water quality manager for Public Works and Utilities. “It’s especially rewarding to see that Pierce County’s efforts are being recognized in a meaningful way with this funding by the state. The money will be used for these construction projects, which also means jobs for our community.”

Polluted stormwater is the top source of pollution to Puget Sound and Pierce County streams, rivers, wetlands and lakes, according to Wrye. Most rain and snowmelt runoff does not get treated before flowing into surface waters and is the main reason most streams are rated only a “C” or below on Pierce County’s Water Quality Scorecard.