Three years ago, Puget Soundkeeper and Washington Environmental Council set out to determine whether local cities and counties were taking on the responsibility of planning for walkable, green, and healthy communities. While only a couple paragraphs in their stormwater permit, low-impact development (LID) code updates signal to us whether a city or county has actually taken meaningful steps towards planning a sustainable future. Aside from Nature’s Scorecard, our organizations have engaged directly in the code update process for many cities and towns – sending letters, meeting with staff, calling council members, and testifying at public meetings. We have been deeply involved with this process for three years to make sure we could tell you the real story of what happened.
ABOUT THE PERMITS
Under the Clean Water Act, cities and counties are required to manage their stormwater runoff to protect water quality, using standards set out in the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits issued by the Department of Ecology under the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. After over a decade of legal action and advocacy on behalf of the public, our organizations succeeded in making LID a required part of NPDES permits in the state of Washington.
All large cities and counties in Washington with an NPDES permit were required to update their development codes and regulations to make LID principles and practices the “preferred and commonly used approach” by the end of 2016. This means writing LID into the municipal code that governs development projects.
ABOUT THE SCORECARD
Washington Environmental Council and Puget Soundkeeper have worked with cities and counties over the last year, reaching out to all 81 local governments with stormwater permits around Puget Sound to help them implement these changes. This scorecard presents a snapshot of how municipalities around the Sound are performing, measured against the guidance provided to meet the permit requirement. We show how each municipality has performed, as well as how the region has done overall (see pie chart on opposite page). This report offers residents an opportunity to get involved locally and be a part of this important transition that will protect our communities and waterways for generations to come. See how your community did on five key code updates the Department of Ecology included in their Integration Toolkit.
This project was privately funded by individual donations to Puget Soundkeeper and Washington Environmental Council. No public funds were used. Evaluating how cities and counties incorporated LID is a Near-Term Action in the Puget Sound Partnership’s Action Agenda.