Marlene Feist

Managing stormwater, protecting the Spokane River

Marlene Feist, Utilities Communications Manager, No Phone Number Available

Friday, August 1, 2014 at 12:34 p.m.

Managing stormwater, protecting the Spokane River

The City of Spokane is increasing efforts to manage stormwater to improve the health of the Spokane River. On Aug. 1, the City begins operating under its updated and renewed municiple stormwatwe permit. The permit requries the City to prevent pollution from stormwater runoff.

Stormwater runoff occurs when rain or snowmelt flows over surfaces like rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, streets, and even lawns. Stormwater can pick up chemicals, trash, yard waste, sediment, and pollutants like metals and PCBs. It flows through storm drains, into seperated storm sewer system, and ultimately into the Spokane River.

The City has 300 miles of seperated storm sewers that discharge stormwater to the Spokane River, Latah Creek, or infiltration facilities. Hundreds of millions of gallons of stormwater enters the River annualy. Managing stormwater is a key component of the City's new Integrated Clean Water Plan that prioritizes a series of projects totaling $130 million based on their positive impact to the River.

The City's stormwater permit has six basic elements:

  • Public educations.
  • Public involvement.
  • Illicit discharge detection and elimination
  • Construction stormwater controls
  • Post-construction stormwater controls.
  • Operations and maintenance.

The updated permit has several new requirements, including enhanced operations and maintenance, performance of effectiveness studies, and allowing low impact development for stormwater management. Low-impact development (LID) is an emerging practice that mimics nature's management of stormwater. It emphasizes site conservation and uses natural landscaping features to filter and retain stormwater close to where it falls. The City passed an ordinance allowing for these techniques last summer.

Each year, the City publishes a Stormwater Management Program, detailing the activities the City has performed to meet permit requirements. The Stormwater Management Program can be viewed here: /publicworks/stormwater/management/. Public comment is continually accepted in this document.

The City's stormwater permit is part of the Eastern Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit and is administered by the Washington State Department of Ecology.

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