FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 30, 2017
Seattle, WA — In a joint project, Puget Soundkeeper and Washington Environmental Council have released Nature’s Scorecard, to keep cities and counties in the Puget Sound region accountable for holistic health and water quality planning. As part of their stormwater permits, and under the Clean Water Act authority, 81 cities and counties across Puget Sound were required to update their development codes to make low-impact development principles and practices the “preferred and commonly used approach.” This is the first comprehensive assessment of regional performance.
Scores show fewer than half of cities and counties have made meaningful changes, 15% completely failing to meet the requirement as of December 1st. Yet some municipalities have gone to great lengths to build a healthy future and protect shared community waters.
Soundkeeper and WEC communicated directly with 81 local governments and reviewed their development codes, using five key indicators pulled directly from a toolkit provided to help cities and counties meet the permit requirement.
“Recovering Puget Sound must include transforming how we manage stormwater as a region,” said Mindy Roberts, People for Puget Sound Program Director at Washington Environmental Council. “We are inspired by our cities and counties who are truly stepping up and taking responsibility for protecting community health and local waterways.”
“Stormwater pollution continues to be one of our biggest challenges in protecting water quality, said Heather Bartlett, Washington State Department of Ecology, Water Quality Program Manager. “This scorecard highlights the efforts of local governments to better manage stormwater using low impact development. We appreciate WEC and PSA for emphasizing the importance of addressing stormwater runoff pollution.”
Low-impact development techniques include rain gardens, buffers around paved areas, permeable pavement, and preserving existing plantings on development sites. Over decades of studies these are proven methods to help reduce pollution and flooding by incorporating natural drainage solutions that filter and slow stormwater. Soundkeeper and WEC won legal decisions in 2008 and 2009 requiring LID to be incorporated into state permits for managing stormwater.
“It’s far more cost-effective to prevent pollution now than clean it up later,” said Chris Wilke, Puget Soundkeeper Executive Director. “Now is the time to make sure that cities and counties are complying with the requirements for common-sense stormwater management and ensure our waterways are safe and healthy for everyone to enjoy.”
The report highlights municipalities that went above and beyond the requirements, recognizing eight “green star” communities including Kitsap County and Olympia.
“In Kitsap, we have developed a culture of viewing water as a resource, said Charlotte Garrido, Kitsap County Commissioner. “A low-impact development approach allows us to work with the rain, rather than against it. This approach protects, restores, conserves, and reclaims our water — and this scorecard helps us know exactly where we stand in our region.”
“We’re grateful for the recognition as a “green star,” said Jim Cooper, City of Olympia Councilmember. “We know this work is critical and recognize the long-term investment. If you want to see smarter, greener stormwater solutions in action, you should come visit us in Olympia!”
To see the full Scorecard go to: https://naturesscorecard.com/scorecard/