Washington Ecology unveils clean water project to create jobs, stabilize communities

Washington Water
Photo Credit: Washington state Department of Ecology
The Poplar Street (Colville to 5th) Stormwater Green Retrofit Project area.

LACEY, Wash. — The Washington state Department of Ecology is proposing to spread $282 million amongst “108 high-priority clean water projects” to encourage the protection of clean water in the Pacific Northwest.

The ‘Water Quality Combined Funding Program’ is meant to assist communities throughout the state by providing resources to manage wastewater treatment, sewer systems, polluted stormwater and a variety of related issues. Overall, the effort is a push to combat nonpoint pollution.

For those who are unfamiliar, nonpoint pollution is when pollution from various sources combine to impact a single source. The antonym is point source pollution, in which pollution originates from a single source.

According to research from Aquasana, Washington has the fourth-worst tap water in the United States, claiming that the following pollutants can be found in local tap water: Radon, chloroform, arsenic, nitrate, chromium, uranium, and radium.

https://twitter.com/EcologyWA/status/1350119966964502531

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As the Department of Ecology’s Water Quality Program Manager, Vince McGowan feels this initiative will have lasting positive impacts on communities throughout Washington state.

“Support from the legislature for clean water projects is direct support for local communities in Washington,” McGowan said. “Local governments and organizations do the on-the-ground work to protect and restore clean water.”

The Department of Ecology’s website claims that roughly 90 percent of the funding that the Water Quality Combined Funding Program receives will be dispersed throughout Washington communities.

Their funding is a combination of state and federal money that’ll be put toward creating new opportunities for Washingtonians. They claim that every $1 million put toward building a more clean water infrastructure generates 11 jobs. They estimate that this investment in clean water programs can generate more than 3,000 jobs.

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One example of money being distributed within Southeastern Washington is a $1.2 million grant going toward the Poplar Street Stormwater Green Retrofit Project in Walla Walla.

This funding will assist in treating stormwater runoff for a five-block stretch in Downtown Walla Walla. This should limit the metals, pesticides, fertilizers, hydrocarbons and fecal coliform that pollutes Lincoln Creek and Mill Creek.

$209 million in forgivable loans and grants are going to 28 projects focused on treating wastewater.

A decision on whether or not this money will be approved will be made when the state announces it’s Biennial Budget for 2021-2023. For now, community members can prepare questions to ask during the public comment period being held on February 14.

For more information on the public comment period and goals of the Water Quality Combined Funding Program, visit their website here.

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