New state stormwater regulations could make Town Center harder to build

July 15, 2014

By Ari Cetron

New: July 15, 3:04 p.m.

A series of new stormwater regulations look like they might make it harder for developers interested in building in the town center area.
The rules place much tighter requirements on the amount of water that a new building can generate and let flow into a wetland.
Eric LaFrance, the city’s stormwater engineer, gave the City Council an overview of the new rules July 7.
New construction generates water by covering part of the ground, so the ground can no longer absorb the water.
As a result, more water flows off of a property into nearby streams or wetlands. When the additional water flows into the streams it can damage them.
LaFrance explained that under the new rules, new development is only permitted to generate a 20 percent increase in water over the course of a day, or 15 percent averaged over the course of a month.  For comparison’s sake, LaFrance explained that the new community center, which took large measures to reduce runoff, would create a 65 percent increase.
Another standard will affect the city’s stormwater detention ponds.
These man-made ponds hold water and then slowly release it into the environment in order to reduce the amount flowing into nearby streams at any one time.
LaFrance said that, in general, the ponds allow the release of water for about three days per year. He was quick to note that is spread out over the course of the year – five minutes here, 15 minutes there, all adding up to three days.
The new standards will mean the ponds will need to work for 30 days.
“You’re going to end up with a pond that’s quite a bit larger,” he said.
Since much of the Town Center area is near a wetland, the new standard could make it much more challenging for developers to build on many of the sites, since land might need to be used for ponds instead of buildings.
The standards are being imposed by the state Department of Ecology, which is calling them their understanding of the best way to administer the federal Clean Water Act.
The next step, La France said, is to work with Ecology to find out what was behind the standards.
For example, on the 15 percent standard was it just about the amount of water, or did it have to do with the amount of other things Ecology thought might be in the water.

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2 Responses to “New state stormwater regulations could make Town Center harder to build”

  1. Razzle on July 17th, 2014 1:26 am

    They’re crazy to promote even more mosquito habitat… Mosquitos carry many diseases… No, this is not good.

  2. John Galvin, Ph.D. on July 17th, 2014 11:25 am

    Our city officials are investing over $30 million in parks and recreation but not a single penny goes into a central stormwater management system that would eliminate the need for so many expensive and unsightly collection ponds.

    (The Sammamish Review reporter could have asked why this is so? Local news, if you can call it that, merely fills the space between advertising)

    Ten or more years ago, the city identified important work on the cityi’s stormwater management system that needed to be done. Not done yet. Compare, all our neighboring cities have invested in central stormwater facilities. Development contributes a substantial amount of the cost of a common stormwater system, but the city needs to take the lead and build out the system first.

    No, our council and city manager insist that development pay for development. This is their way of saying, lets do nothing. When government fails to play an appropriate role, citizens end up getting taxed indirectly. Costs are passed on in higher fees and less effective and more costly private infrastructure. Key projects go undone. Excuses for doing nothing multiply.

    Sammamish is not a city, it is a country club. Club membership is the ability to pay for a $600,000 to $800,000 house and three cars. The City Council is little more than a country club committee more worried about belonging, being liked, and planning recreational activities than doing things City’s do.

    So it goes, I expect nothing will change.

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