Port Townsend gathers information on stormwater at open house

PORT TOWNSEND — About a dozen community members lent their insight to city officials during an open house on some of Port Townsend’s problem areas for stormwater drainage.

Port Townsend city officials formed a task force responsible for crafting the stormwater management plan in August and have since worked to gather public input on priorities.

The city accepted public comment from Sept. 13 through Wednesday and held a public open house Tuesday night to gather more public opinion.

“For something like this, you start out with information-gathering on what the deficiencies are,” said Samantha Harper, city civil engineer, at the open house.

“We’re looking for what’s good, what’s bad, what works and what doesn’t.”

The task force will meet in early October to go over all the information gathered and begin to put together the revised stormwater management plan.

The stormwater management plan is intended to address the condition of the stormwater system, look at the current operations and maintenance and figure out how those could be expanded, identify capital projects and figure out how to finance both capital and operational costs, according to the city website at www.cityofpt.us.

As far as Port Townsend’s current stormwater system goes, the city’s consultants said it is a good jumping-off point.

“One of the encouraging things so far is all of the parts of the city’s current stormwater program are pretty strong,” said Julie Brandt, a representative from project consultant Parametrix who attended Tuesday’s open house.

“We’re just trying to get all the parts to work together more efficiently.”

Part of creating a new stormwater plan will include comparing the state Department of Ecology stormwater manuals from 2005 and 2012. The city currently uses the 2005 version and will look to see whether an update would help, according to Harper.

The stormwater management plan is meant to help drainage to prevent flooding and maintain water quality.

The stormwater task force identified 14 capital projects, almost all of which deal with flooding and drainage issues, and on Tuesday, community members added a few more.

The plan also will look at maintaining protections for critical drainage areas, namely keeping stormwater from draining untreated into drinking water or onto the shoreline.

However, according to Paul Fendt of Parametrix, the city’s current protections are very effective.

“Somebody was wise years ago and adopted those,” Fendt said. “It’s really a great foundation to build off of.”

The plan is scheduled to be submitted to State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) review in late October, and there will be a public comment period on the draft plan and the environmental analysis in late October or early November.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected]

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