Walla Walla County residents to see new stormwater fee

The fee will pay for state- and federally mandated stormwater management work.

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WALLA WALLA -- A new fee schedule to fund stormwater management in Walla Walla County was approved Monday.

Following a public hearing which drew no speakers, county commissioners approved the stormwater fee schedule by a unanimous vote.

Owners of residential parcels will pay a flat fee of $3 per month or $36 per year, said Joy Bader, stormwater program manager. Non-residential parcels will be assessed a fee based on the actual amount of impervious area on the parcel.

The new fee is expected to go into effect at the start of 2011, Bader said. The charge will be listed along with others, such as bond levies, that property owners will see on their property tax statements.

The fees are expected to raise about $280,000 for the county Stormwater Utility, which will manage activities to prevent runoff from polluting streams, rivers and groundwater.

Another major component will be outreach and education to teach people about new stormwater rules, Bader said.

The stormwater utility, which is under the county Public Works Department, was created in November to comply with state and federal mandates.

The county is currently in the fourth year of a five-year process to implement a stormwater management plan required by the National Pollutant Discharge Eliminations System stormwater permit that applies to Eastern Washington.

Commissioner Gregg Loney said he and fellow commissioners were not happy about having to impose the new fee, but had no choice because the county is required to meet the demands of the federal and state requirements.

"This item has been dictated down without a funding source," he said.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.

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