In the wake of a 165,000-gallon sewage overflow in early July that temporarily shut down swimming and fishing activities at Seattle’s Golden Gardens Park on Puget Sound, the Washington State Department of Ecology issued $183 million for more than 100 high-priority, clean water projects statewide.
The improvements are part of Ecology’s Water Quality Program, which includes $169 million for new projects and $14 million to fully fund clean water projects begun in 2018. These projects are a high priority, Ecology said, as they help to create a healthy habitat for endangered salmon and the Southern Resident Killer Whale population.
“Nearly 90% of our state’s water quality funding goes to local communities,” said Heather Bartlett, manager of Ecology’s Water Quality Program. She added that the projects can involve anything, “from enhancing wastewater treatment systems to designing stormwater gardens to planting trees along rivers.”
Most of the funds – $124 million – will be set aside for 35 wastewater treatment projects, the department said. Nine of these projects are receiving hardship financial assistance because of their potential impact on residential sewer bills. One such project involves $2.2 million to make critical repairs to the wastewater treatment facility in the Yakima County community of Buena, while another will use $4.8 million to treat wastewater in the city of Vader in Lewis County.
Roughly $33 million in grants will cover 38 communities to reduce stormwater pollution, Ecology said, including $20.5 million for Puget Sound storm runoff recovery projects. The cities benefitting from this plan include Pullman, Bremerton and Tacoma.
In addition, $21.4 million from the Water Quality Program grant will be used to control pollution from business activities spanning over a widespread area in 15 Washington counties.