Ecology Issues WSDOT Permit

On Feb. 3, Ecology issued a permit to the Washington state Department of Transportation (WSDOT) regulating stormwater runoff from state-owned highways and facilities in urbanized areas of the state.

The department's program currently addresses stormwater runoff from highways, rest areas, park and ride lots, ferry terminals, and maintenance facilities. The new permit brings WSDOT into alignment with municipal stormwater permit regulations in Washington’s most populated areas.

“The state is part of the stormwater problem, and the state is working to be part of the solution,” said Ecology Director Jay Manning. “As local governments are stepping up to their stormwater permit requirements, this permit shows how the state is taking steps to enhance and increase its efforts to control and prevent stormwater pollution from its highways and facilities.”

Both agency heads agree that they will need the legislature’s help to sort out funding.

“WSDOT will be capturing, treating, and testing stormwater from the state highway system at a higher level than in the past to protect our waters from pollution while also maintaining and improving our state’s transportation system” said Paula Hammond, Washington Transportation Secretary.

The new permit requires the agency to manage stormwater runoff to a greater degree, over a larger geographic area. It replaces WSDOT’s existing National Pollution Discharge Elimination coverage, which has been in effect since 1995.

Prior to the new permit, WSDOT applied the maintenance and design standards of its Highway Runoff Manual (HRM) to stormwater facilities statewide. Now the agency has updated the manual as well as its 1997 Stormwater Management Plan, reflecting the best practices in stormwater management. They outline the stormwater treatment and flow-control facilities the department needs to build into projects to better protect water quality. They also identify requirements for maintaining, testing, and mapping stormwater facilities.

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