Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Saturday, February 10, 2007

"Pullman makes smart move with stormwater appeal"

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
The city of Pullman has made two wise decisions in the latest round of its bout with the Washington State Department of Ecology.

City officials this week announced they will appeal the stormwater permit issued by Ecology and accept a grant to help it comply with the terms of the permit.

The city is taking no chances.

At issue is Ecology’s insistence that communities throughout the state should do a better job of managing the quality and quantity of runoff from development and control stormwater discharge into sewer systems. Such management should decrease pollutions and contamination downstream.

The policy even takes into account the obvious climate and topological differences between eastern and western Washington. But that’s not enough.

Pullman officials rightly made the point there are a variety of rock and soil types within eastern Washington that necessitate different approaches to stormwater runoff. It’s not a one policy fits all application.

The permit regulations as written would place a costly burden on the city and its residents.

Pullman has joined with several other eastern Washington cities in appealing the permits.

The appeal process undoubtedly will take some time.

The appeal, though, will not excuse the city from complying with the permit. That’s why the city also plans to accept a $75,000 grant to pay for implementation of its stormwater program.

No Pullman taxpayer should argue against taking the grant.

The state-issued permits are part of the federally mandated standards of the Clean Water Act.

Clean water in our rivers and streams is an admirable goal. Washington residents deserve no less from a state that derives significant revenue from water-based recreation.

Of course, Pullman and other cities in the region want to do their part to help keep water free of contaminants.

We hope during the appeal process the state realizes standards may not be achievable for Pullman given the local conditions.

In the meantime, city officials have decided to put as many options into play as possible and that’s smart governing.

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