News from the Puget Sound Partnership

Sandy Howard, Department of Ecology
(360) 407-6408


Western Washington putting a LID on polluted runoff

Department of Ecology News Release

OLYMPIA - The state Department of Ecology (Ecology) today released new, updated municipal stormwater permits that will require the most populated areas of Western Washington to use low impact development (LID), and to begin monitoring improvements to water quality.

LID employs techniques using vegetation and soil to mimic how Mother Nature naturally manages rainwater and keeps it from running over hard surfaces and collecting pollution along the away.

During rainstorms and snowmelt, stormwater runoff carries toxic chemicals and bacteria into bays, lakes and rivers and Puget Sound. Stormwater runoff pollution from urban areas is the greatest threat to Washington's waters.

Recognizing that local governments are stretched during the down economy, the permits phase in requirements to employ LID practices.

LID practices must be in use by June 2015 for Seattle and Tacoma, and King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Clark counties. The new permit requires the next most populated areas — Phase II stormwater permitted communities — to begin employing LID by the end of 2016. Permit-covered jurisdictions in Lewis and Cowlitz counties have until June 2017. Aberdeen has until June 2018.

"It's a whole lot easier and cheaper to prevent runoff and pollution as we plan our developments, than to try to manage stormwater after the fact. Importantly, the new permits give local governments the time they need to develop their programs so they can comply with new permit requirements," said Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant.

To help local governments, Ecology is developing a LID training program and is working with $1 million per year in funding from the state budget. Ecology expects to provide the training for the next 5 years.

Art Castle, executive vice president of the Business Industry Association of Washington said: "The new technical training effort for low impact development implementation will provide the necessary technical educational opportunities for both the public and private sector for successful implementation across the state."

"These permits will improve how we prevent and manage polluted runoff by integrating innovative low impact development techniques and effectively evaluating progress through regional monitoring," said Anthony Wright, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Partnership.

The Puget Sound Partnership, in collaboration with Ecology and with assistance from consultant, AHBL, Inc., developed a new guidebook designed to help local government staff integrate LID requirements into local codes and standards.

The guidebook is intended for both local governments complying with LID requirements associated with the pending reissuance of the Phase I and Phase II Western Washington municipal stormwater permits and local governments not subject to the reissued permits that wish to integrate LID requirements into their codes and standards.

The new permits will also require monitoring, a feedback loop that indicates if actions are effective to make water healthier. Ecology collaborated with a group of local governments and other interested parties to design a Regional Stormwater Monitoring Program for Puget Sound. The approach aims to save money by sharing expertise among the Puget Sound cities.

Two new jurisdictions will be covered by the Phase II stormwater permits starting in August 2013. These include Lynden and Snoqualmie, whose populations have grown over 10,000 since the last permit. The same permit expands Whatcom County's coverage to include the urban growth area of Birch Bay. Ecology will work with Whatcom County on this expansion during the next five-year permit term beginning in 2013.

Ecology will conduct workshops across the state in October and November to explain permit changes.

Phase I Municipal Stormwater Permit covers the cities of Seattle and Tacoma, and King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Clark counties. Phase II Western Washington Municipal Stormwater Permit covers 80 medium and small cities, and the urban portions of four counties.

The Washington Stormwater Center is assisting Ecology by creating a training plan for LID. The state created the center as a resource in Washington for integrated water quality permit education, permit technical assistance, stormwater management, and new technology research, development, and evaluation.

Here are highlights of the specifics about the Western Washington permits and what happens today:

Read more about the new permits at the Stormwater Municipal 2012 Reissuance website.

See a copy of the new LID guidebook for more information.

The Puget Sound Partnership is the state agency leading the regional recovery effort to cleanup Puget Sound.The Partnership has three unique roles for helping advance this important regional effort to protect Puget Sound from polluted stormwater runoff:



Media Contact: Sandy Howard, 360-407-6408 (desk), 360-791-3177 (cellular),

For more information:

Washington Stormwater Center (

The new LID guidebook (

Ecology stormwater 2012 Reissuance website (

Ecology's Water Quality Website (

Ecology’s social media (

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