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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Council Roundup: New stormwater standards approved

Jim Morris with the Utilities Department tests water from a stream running into Coal Creek.The Bellevue City Council Monday approved new stormwater standards that will bolster efforts to reduce pollutants going into streams, lakes, wetlands and, eventually, Puget Sound.

Bellevue, along with more than 100 other Washington cities, was required to adopt new stormwater standards to comply with the federal Clean Water Act. Starting Jan. 1, all development in Bellevue must meet the 2005 state Department of Ecology Manual stormwater standards.

"Bellevue has a history of preserving streams and protecting our waterways," Mayor Grant Degginger said. "The stormwater standards are consistent with city programs, and support our Environmental Stewardship Initiative to maintain Bellevue's quality of life and keep streams and lakes clean."

As a requirement of keeping its federal stormwater discharge permit, Bellevue also added fines as an enforcement tool to stop pollutant discharges from construction, business and residential activities.

However, the city will continue to rely on educational programs and voluntary compliance. Fines would only be imposed as a last resort. Bellevue's goal is to protect the environment, not to penalize citizens.

Past surveys indicate that many Bellevue residents do not realize that what flows into a storm drain goes directly to the city’s waterways. To enhance education and outreach, the city is participating in an extensive regional public education campaign called, "Puget Sound Starts Here."

The campaign is sponsored by a coalition of more than 300 Puget Sound organizations, including Bellevue, supporting the message that the Sound's problems start in our own backyards. Stormwater runoff picks up pollutants from cars, yard chemicals and pet waste that wash into storm drains and end up in local waterways.

To reduce stormwater pollution around their homes, residents can:

  • Use fertilizers and pesticides sparingly or just use compost. When stormwater flows over yards and gardens, it picks up these chemicals and carries them into streams and lakes where they can poison fish and wildlife and pollute water.
  • Take the car to a commercial car wash. The water from car washing contains soap, oil, dirt, metals and solvents that can flow into storm drains and end up in waterways. At a commercial car wash, some of the water is recycled, and dirty water goes to the sewer system where it is treated. Other options for washing a car at home are to use one of the new waterless car wash products or to park the car on the grass, vegetation or gravel, where dirty water can soak into the soil. Car Wash Video
  • Fix car oil leaks. Motor oil doesn't dissolve in water and sticks around for a long time, harming people, wildlife and plants.
  • Scoop pet poop and throw it away. Pet waste is raw sewage, containing bacteria that can wash into streams and lakes, making water unsafe to drink or swim in. Pick up pet waste, bag it and put it in the garbage.
  • Get information on Bellevue’s Stream Team volunteer program.

More information about keeping pollution out of stormwater runoff is available at Keeping Waterways Clean.

Feedback:  Phyllis Varner, Utilities NPDES Permit Coordinator, 425-452-7683, pvarner@bellevuewa.gov

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