Deal announced to cut stormwater pollution from Washington State highways


SEATTLE – In a legal settlement filed on January 26th, the Washington State Department of Transportation agreed that whenever it builds new highways in western Washington, it will also spend a little bit of money to retrofit old ones – thousands of miles of which were constructed without sediment ponds or other pollution controls.

Since mid-2008, when the Pollution Control Hearings Board determined that Ecology's permit governing runoff from cities and counties was too lax, the Department of Ecology has been rewriting its standards for low-impact development. And last fall, it placed new limits on rainwater/stormwater runoff at 1,200 industrial facilities across Washington.

The Department of Ecology issued the permit governing rainwater/stormwater runoff from Washington highways early last year. The state has promised that whenever it builds new highway lanes in the Puget Sound basin, it will spend up to 20 percent of the project's rainwater/stormwater control costs to upgrade existing roads.

“The highway system pours toxic contaminants into our rivers, streams, and Puget Sound,” said Jan Hasselman, an attorney for Earthjustice who represented Puget Soundkeeper Alliance in the legal challenge of the permit.

“Strengthening this permit can be an opportunity to put people back to work by retrofitting our highways to eliminate this problem. This will help our economy today and our quality of life tomorrow by cleaning up salmon spawning streams. It also brings the state into compliance with its obligations under the federal Clean Water Act.”

To read the complete story on the Earthjustice website, click on Deal Announced to Cut Stormwater Pollution in Washington State.


Posted January 2010