Clallam County files appeal of state decision concerning Phase II stormwater permit

Clallam County files appeal of state decision concerning Phase II stormwater permit

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County is filing an appeal against the state Department of Ecology’s decision that the Unincorporated Port Angeles Urban Growth Area requires a Phase II stormwater permit — which would increase costs of development and increase costs to the county.

In its appeal, the county argues that Ecology is reversing its own 2012 decision that the area surrounding Port Angeles did not meet the criteria for being subject to a Phase II permit, despite the county telling Ecology that conditions had not worsened and in some respects had improved.

Approved 2-0

Clallam County Commissioners approved the appeal to be filed before the Pollution Control Hearings Board in a 2-0 vote Tuesday. Commissioner Bill Peach did not attend the meeting.

“To the extent Ecology made the now-challenged decision … Ecology has acted in an unlawful, arbitrary and capricious manner and has exceeded its authority,” the county’s appeal said.

The county is asking for a stay of the application of the Phase II permit until the appeal is resolved. The county specifically requested mediation with Ecology.

Clallam County has provided scientific evidence that water quality has generally improved in streams within the UGA, with the exception of Lees Creek, according to the notice of appeal.

The county said in its appeal that Ecology reversed its 2012 decision in part because of the “factually unsupported conclusion that more than 1,000 persons reside” in the UGA.

Ecology decision

In 2012, Ecology determined that the Port Angeles UGA did not meet the criteria for permit coverage, but listed several recommendations.

It asked the county to implement a draft comprehensive stormwater management plan, which included a clearing and grading ordinance, new code to prohibit illicit discharges to stormwater conveyance system and updated requirements for drainage design and review.

Last August, Ecology informed the county that it would be listed as a new permitee that would be issued July 2019.

“Unfortunately, the county has not finalized its DRAFT Comprehensive Stormwater Management Plan nor has it adopted drainage requirements for small projects, a clearing and grading ordinance or code prohibiting illicit discharges,” Ecology wrote in its Aug. 1, 2018, letter.

Department of Community Development Director Mary Ellen Winborn wrote in a letter to Ecology in 2018 that water quality listings have not changed, that there is better stormwater review, populations have decreased, impervious surfaces have decreased and the county updated stormwater regulations and policies.

She wrote that support for stormwater management has increased across county departments.

Winborn wrote that adoption of the draft plans stagnated as a result of change in the elected DCD Director and push-back from the community.

Winborn, who was first elected after defeating the incumbent in 2014, wrote that she led staff to bring stormwater management, the draft plans and draft ordinances to the planning commission last fall with review continuing through this year.

Updates made

The county’s appeal said the county has updated its development regulations and plans relating to stormwater, retrofitted the courthouse parking lot with low-impact development to treat stormwater runoff and since 2005 has required major projects to use the Western Washington Stormwater Manuals for designing their stormwater management controls.

The county supports Streamkeepers, a volunteer program that monitors streams for water quality.


Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula

Clallam County files appeal of state decision concerning Phase II stormwater permit
Clallam County files appeal of state decision concerning Phase II stormwater permit

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