Feb 25, 2015

Washington Department of Ecology Proposes 165 Clean Water Projects

The proposed grants & loans are valued at approximately $229 million

Washington Department of Ecology clean water projects grants loans

Grants and loans valued at approximately $229 million are proposed for 165 clean water projects across Washington. The money would go to communities all over the state to help fund infrastructure projects and help protect water and the environment.

“We’re partnering with local communities across Washington to help fund improvements,” said Heather Bartlett, manager of the Department of Ecology’s Water Quality Program. “It’s an opportunity to financially support communities that might not otherwise be able to afford these projects, and create jobs at the same time. Plus, we are fixing storm water pollution problems that threaten our waters.”

State financial managers calculate that 11 jobs in Washington are created for every $1 million spent on infrastructure projects. Using this calculation, the funding will support more than 2,300 jobs, with one-third of them as construction jobs.

Highlights of the funding include approximately $145 million to 21 wastewater treatment facility projects. Six of these projects are in communities that qualify for financial hardship status. They will receive grants, forgivable principal loans (loans that do not need to be paid back), and loans with interest rates as low as 0%. The communities are the Skokomish Indian Tribe, Chehalis, Winlock, Sacheen Lake Water and Sewer District (Pend Oreille County), Kitsap County and Oak Harbor.

Approximately 110 of the projects would reduce storm water pollution coming from existing development across Washington. The department proposes to share $63.2 million in grants from the Stormwater Financial Assistance Program. A few of the highest-priority storm water projects include:

  • $1.5 million to Spokane to install pavement that allows water to soak into the ground, bio-retention swales, and drywells to protect the Spokane River;
  • $466,000 to Walla Walla to install bio-retention basins and remove hard pavement to protect Mill Creek;
  • $461,250 to Port Angeles to add pavement that allows water to soak into the ground to two alleys to reduce pressure on an existing storm water system, help reduce polluted storm water runoff that gets into Port Angeles Harbor, and reduce stormwater flow into the sewer system; and
  • $533,000 to Fife to install low-impact development storm water treatment technologies to protect the Fife Ditch and Hylebos Waterway.

Thirty-one projects would receive $8 million to address land-use-caused pollution, including:

  • Nearly $36,000 to the Capitol Land Trust to protect Mima Creek from agricultural activities;
  • $261,000 to improve the health of Frazer Creek in Okanogan County, which was harmed by the Carlton Complex wildfires;
  • $208,000 to The Lands Council for education and outreach with landowners, developers and students to improve water quality in Hangman Creek near Spokane; and
  • $105,000 for Snohomish Conservation District to re-forest two streams and a wetland in the French Creek watershed to make the water colder.

The department invites public comments on the proposed funding list through 5 p.m. March 15. Project descriptions and proposed funding amounts can be found online, as well as descriptions of where the money comes from. The funding is contingent on a final state budget. Spending could begin as early as July 1, 2015.