14 Pierce County groups earn stormwater management honors

Fourteen local businesses and homeowner associations have been recognized for taking steps to reduce the amount of pollution entering Pierce County’s waterways in 2014.

These businesses and associations received Pierce County’s “5-Star Excellence in Stormwater Management” award for exceeding operational and maintenance standards for their stormwater systems: The Boeing Company, Frederickson; Better Buzz Café, Spanaway; Accurate Mini Storage, Spanaway; Bartelson Transport Inc., Puyallup; Elmhurst Mutual Power & Light Co., Parkland; Pierce County Fire District #6, Puyallup; Sunrise Medical Campus, Puyallup; Knoben Plat HOA, Puyallup; Vietnamese Buddhist Community Center, Tacoma; Forest Canyon Highlands HOA, Lake Tapps; Delano Park HOA, Puyallup; Woodland Creek Park HOA, Puyallup; Pierce County Fire District #6, Frederickson; and Lipoma Firs Golf Course Club House, Puyallup.

“We can all look to these as fine examples of what’s right in Pierce County,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “Dealing with stormwater is a constant struggle for our county’s businesses, and I’m proud to say that these organizations should be emulated to help continue reducing stormwater pollution.”

Stormwater is rain that runs off of hard surfaces, like roofs, driveways and streets into a system of pipes, ditches and ponds. Along the way, stormwater picks up pollution from vehicle leaks, animal waste, fertilizers and other toxic chemicals. Most stormwater eventually flows into local streams, lakes, rivers and Puget Sound.

“Effective management of stormwater means less pollution gets into our streams, lakes and Puget Sound,” said Dan Wrye, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities water quality and watershed services manager. “Clean water is fundamental for quality of life and it is outstanding that our businesses and homeowner associations see that.”

Businesses and homeowner associations are required to keep stormwater facilities such as storm drains and stormwater ponds located on their property or within their neighborhood functioning properly. The county evaluates stormwater facilities on a five-tier system. The highest level, a rating of “5,” means that facility maintenance is excellent.

“Pierce County maintains a high bar for facilities to get a ‘5-star’ award,” said Wrye. “This is intentional, because federal and state regulations are increasingly more restrictive. Maintaining these stormwater facilities protects business or neighborhood investment.”

In 2014, Pierce County inspected over 1,500 business and neighborhood stormwater systems for compliance with operational and maintenance standards. Since 2008, private stormwater system maintenance has shown consistent improvement throughout the county. Two-thirds of facilities meet or exceed requirements, and the number of the worst violators has been reduced from 28 percent in 2008 to 5 percent in 2014.

2014 had the most “5-star award” recipients since the program began in 2008. The Boeing Company’s Frederickson plant is the sole entity to be recognized every year since 2008.