OLYMPIA, Washington, November 30, 2009 (ENS) – Governor Chris Gregoire and the Washington state Department of Ecology have approved clean water projects in Olympia, Spokane, and Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood worth a total of $5.6 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding.

The funding will pay for low-impact development projects that provide enhanced stormwater treatment. These projects capture or slow stormwater runoff allowing it to infiltrate back into the ground.

The goal is to prevent polluted runoff from getting into downstream waters and drinking water. The projects will reduce flooding and sewer-stormwater overflows, and improve water quality for threatened and endangered salmon.

Project proponents estimate the projects will support about 75 construction jobs.

“Getting more jobs is a great bonus, but so is getting the clean water these projects provide for our state and for our salmon,” said Governor Gregoire.

Polluted stormwater is the leading cause of urban water pollution in Washington state because water that goes into storm drains is not treated.

A hiker in Olympia’s Yauger Park (Photo by Tesla Monson)

Washington’s capital city of Olympia will receive $3.67 million for enhanced treatment of stormwater runoff at Yauger Park. Half of the $3.67 million is a low-interest 20-year loan and half is forgivable principal loan, or money that does not need to be repaid.

The Yauger Park project will help manage water that flows from the park’s stormwater retention site into Percival Creek and eventually into Budd Inlet in South Puget Sound.

The project will increase stormwater storage at Yauger Park, reducing erosion from flooding. The project includes low impact development, a water quality treatment wetland, retention ponds, a 5,000 square foot rain garden, and swales. The city also will create a new parking lot using porous pavement.

The eastern Washington city of Spokane will receive $382,000 for its West Broadway SURGE (Spokane Urban Runoff Greenway Experiment) project. Half of the $382,000 is a low-interest 20-year loan and half is a forgivable principal loan, or money that does not need to be repaid.

The funding will help the city construct 37 planters between the curb and sidewalk to intercept stormwater runoff on both sides of Broadway. The project will filter the stormwater runoff through mulch, top soil and a gravel-enhanced base, cleaning the water before is allowed to soak into the ground.

The project protects the city’s underground aquifer, the primary source of drinking water for Spokane’s more than 202,000 residents.

It is intended to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from stormwater runoff that gets into the Spokane River.

Seattle Public Utilities’ Ballard Green Streets project gets $1.54 million. Half of the $1.54 million is a low-interest 20-year loan and half is forgivable principal loan, or money that does not need to be repaid.

Using this funding, the utility will install 10 blocks of swales to naturally detain and infiltrate stormwater. This Green Streets project will control runoff from 2.6 acres of hard surfaces, reducing sewer-storm overflows. The swales also will free up capacity in the combined sewer-storm system, further reducing pollution overflows.

The swales will help reduce stormwater pollution in the Lake Washington Ship Canal, which serves as a key migration corridor for threatened Chinook salmon and steelhead, coho salmon, and regionally significant sockeye salmon.

These Recovery Act projects are part of a list of prioritized infrastructure projects slated to receive a total of $65.4 million of federal stimulus funding that was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in June.

Projects eligible for these Recovery Act funds are publicly owned water pollution control facilities and associated activities that are ready to proceed to construction.

The funding will help local governments pay for water pollution control infrastructure including the upgrade and expansion of wastewater, reclaimed water and stormwater facilities, and green infrastructure projects that improve water or energy efficiency.

Governor Gregoire says Washington state is administering the Recovery Act investments with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability. The newly created website www.recovery.wa.gov enables anyone to see where tax dollars are going and hold government accountable for the results.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.