Clallam County stormwater management plan could be floated as early as next month

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES –– Clallam County planning officials will present to the public a 77-page plan for managing stormwater runoff as soon as next month.

County planners have been working on the plan since 2008, when the county received a $719,745 grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to put together a stormwater strategy.

A draft version was received with mixed reviews by the county’s planning commission at its meeting Wednesday, March 5.

Planning commissioners have seen several drafts of the plan since work began.

Commissioner Gary Gleason of Port Angeles said he voted against the plan in 2011 because he felt it was too complex.

“To use a document of this complexity to present to a citizen coming in to build a house doesn’t fit at all,” Gleason said at last week’s meeting.

“We have to have some logic about what we’re requiring.”

The goal of the plan is to prevent storm runoff, defined as rain or snow melt that drains into streams without penetrating the soil, from carrying pollutants into waterways and shellfish beds, according to senior planner Dennis Lefevre.

Some of the methods recommended to accomplish that involve public education, new development standards, control of illicit discharge and ongoing monitoring.

Planning Commissioner Tom Montgomery of Sequim said he felt the plan’s assumption that educating the public more about stormwater runoff would be key to controlling it was “way, way, way too unrealistic and idealistic.”

“For the public in general, even people who consider themselves to be relatively environmentally conscious, I just don’t see them — based on some workshops — spending money and managing their land to control stormwater,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery also criticized the plan’s recommendation that the county encourage that rural development be “clustered” to minimize areas that would see increased impact from stormwater runoff after development.

“That’s entirely inconsistent with our growth management act and our comprehensive plan,” he said.

Commissioner Connie Beauvais of Joyce criticized the plan for applying stormwater restrictions in the same way across the county, noting the vast difference in rainfall in different regions.

“I live in the west, so I have a couple comments I’d like to make about rainfall,” Beauvais said.

“There are 897,662 gallons of water that fall on my property for each inch of rain.”

Last month, a storm dumped 10.7 inches of on her property, enough to fill 28.34 tanks measuring 30-feet tall by 30-feet in diameter tanks, she said.

“We try to balance the east and the west,” she said.

“The west end of the county receives 107 inches of rain per year, and the east end of the county receives 16 inches per year.”

Beauvais also took issue with the plan’s language of promoting changes in the “behavior” of landowners.

“My mother had difficulty trying to change my behavior,” she said.

Scott Clausen, a planning commissioner from Forks, questioned how the plan would be enforced as the county deals with dwindling resources.

Clausen noted the county requires annual septic system inspections be performed by owners, but “nobody’s enforcing that.”

Garret DelaBarre, a contractor from Port Angeles who was a member of the working group that met to assemble much of the plan, said the requirement that stormwater plans for individual pieces of property be included with its title would require stormwater systems are inspected whenever those properties change ownership.

A draft version of the plan is posted on the county’s web site at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-StormwaterPlanDraft.

To comment on the stormwater management plan, email stormwater-comments@co.clallam.wa.us or contact the county’s community development department at 360-417-2423.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 10. 2014 7:37PM
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