Stormwater runoff is the largest source of pollution into Puget Sound. It comes from rain or snowmelt that travels over pavement and carries oil and other toxics into the water.
New regulations under the federal Clean Water Act mean that 81 cities and counties around Puget Sound now have to update their building codes to address the problem.
Two environmental groups just completed a scorecard to see how communities are handling this.
Mindy Roberts is with the Washington Environmental Council, which teamed up with the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance to rate the communities. She said in many cases, contact from the environmental groups helped them improve their codes.
“I think some simply didn’t understand the nature of what was being asked, and we were able to help them with that, and others just have may pulls on their time, and had simply had not prioritized it,” Roberts said. “So that little bit of outreach was enough really to galvanize some actions and communities were able to get things done, which is terrific.”
Still, she said their scorecard found less than half of the 81 cities and counties are in compliance. Their building permits have to address runoff by requiring low-impact development. They can do that by filtering the toxic water through things like permeable pavement or rain gardens.
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