Prairie Line Trail (UWT)
(Photo credit: Dave Laush)
On October 24 and 25, 2013, the University of Washington, Tacoma (UWT) held the 2013 Wellspring Conference, their second annual event highlighting stormwater management and clean water technologies. The conference covered such topics as remediation and filtration systems, the effects of pollutants on biological systems, and regulatory trends. The conference also included a guided tour of three Tacoma locations using current stormwater management techniques: the Prairie Line Trail (UWT), the Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project stormwater filtration improvements, and the Point Ruston Development, where the ASARCO Smelter once stood.
Chuck Couvrette and Dave Laush of Robinson Noble attended the conference and found it very informative, illustrating the many engineering and consulting opportunities to keep our local waters clean. A number of new stormwater cleanup standards are proposed for 2015, and while it is not clear how much retrofitting of older systems will be needed, it does appear that existing systems will be included in the standards.
Come by and see us this week at the Washington Association of Sewer & Water Districts (WASWD) Fall Conference this week (September 25 through 27) in Pasco, Washington. On Thursday afternoon, Burt Clothier will be co-presenting a talk with DOE about water right processing, including the new Certified Water Rights Examiner (CWRE) program.
From the conference program:
3:45 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Ecology Tools to Improve Water Rights Processing
Victoria Leuba, WA State Department of Ecology
Burt Clothier, Robinson Noble
The WA ST DOE has established several programs to enhance the processing of water rights requests. The cost-reimbursement program has been in place for many years and gives water rights applicants the opportunity to hire private consultants from an Ecology-approved list to perform the majority of the processing before Ecology renders a decision. This can greatly shorten the time necessary to complete an application or change request. At the other end of the process, Ecology has just established a certified water rights examiner (CWRE) program. Here, Ecology registers private groundwater professionals to perform the proof-of-appropriation examination needed by a water rights permit holder wishing to finalize their water right into a full certificate. Both programs will be discussed in a joint presentation by water rights professionals.
Sewer and water pipes circa 1956
(Photo credit: Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection)
The Washington State Legislature has been directed by the State Supreme Court to properly fund public schools, and Robinson Noble fully supports this action. The proper funding of public schools in the State is crucial to maintaining the local economy and the standard of living all Washingtonians enjoy. However, the State Senate is currently looking at funding schools by taking money from the Public Works Trust Fund (PWTF). Senate Bill 5985 would permanently redirect 67% of the allocated Real Estate Excise Tax funds and 100% of the allocated Public Utility and Solid Waste Taxes funds away from the PWTF and to the Education Legacy Trust Account created in 2010. If passed, the action will become effective in July 2013 and greatly reduce funding for the PWTF.
Improving the infrastructure of Washington State is critical to our economy, including the health of our public schools. It is widely acknowledged among the engineering community that we have a huge problem in the United States with funding infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gives the country an overall grade of D+ on infrastructure (an individual grade for Washington State is not yet available – both Oregon and Idaho earned C- grades for 2010 and 2012, respectively). This is not the time for Washington State to be cutting funding for the PWTF. The PWTF provides grants and low-interest loans to local utilities for water, wastewater, solid-waste, bridge, and road projects. The Daily Journal of Business reports that “every dollar invested by the PWTF in basic infrastructure yields an additional $3.60 in statewide economic activity.” So, not only is the PWTF important to improving failing infrastructure, it also helps spur economic growth (which, in turn, provides needed tax dollars for schools!).
Certainly the Legislature can do better for schools than by crippling the PWTF. I encourage you to write your legislators today in support of both schools and the Public Works Trust Fund.
The Washington State Supreme Court issued a ruling in March that is believed to represent the last “brick” in the very lengthy water right adjudication process started in 1977. The ruling addresses several thorny issues in the Ahtanum Creek Sub-basin west of the City of Yakima. This sub-basin has the most complex legal history in the entire Yakima Basin and was left until last for that reason.
The significance of the ruling is not so much in its findings as in the fact that this ruling essentially clears the way for the longest-term and most expensive adjudication in State history to be completed. The results can then be used as a basis for water resource management in the Yakima Basin. This is likely to facilitate implementation of several projects intended to enhance the seasonal availability of water throughout the basin and could lead to economically and environmentally advantageous active management efforts.
Ecology’s Water Right General Adjudications webpage provides a good summary of the process, and includes a link to a Yakima Herald newspaper article about the ruling for those who are not inclined to read Supreme Court rulings in their entirety. For those with judicio-masochistic tendencies, the full text of the ruling can be accessed here.
I had seen a presentation at the 2011 NGWA Expo by Mr. Reinhard Klause of Sigmund Lindner, a German manufacturer of precision glass bead products, on an innovative well-design technology—the use of glass beads as filter pack material. I thought the idea merited further discussion, so when I heard that Reinhard was going to visit the Pacific Northwest, my colleagues and I scrambled to organize a seminar.
To maximize the value of the seminar, we invited a broad cross-section of the groundwater community, including drilling contractors, water utilities, well design consultants, the regulatory community, and materials suppliers. We were only able to provide a few days’ notice, but people responded quickly to our invitation. Thank you to all who dropped everything to “come to the party.” I would also like to thank Burt Clothier (RN) and Bill Lum (Ecology) for working to qualify the event for continuing education credits for our driller guests and to Stan French and John Bowman (Lakehaven Utility District) for providing access to the Lakehaven Center meeting facility in Federal Way. Continue reading
Overview of the Process.
The dredging and cleanup of contaminated sediments in Northwestern waterways is important to the Northwest’s economy and in maintaining environmental integrity. In 1995, based in large measure on data developed for the dredging programs, Ecology developed the Sediment Management Standards (SMS; WAC 173-204) Rule to protect human health and the environment from potential impacts of contaminated sediments. The Rule was originally promulgated based on extensive research and regulatory guidance available for marine/estuarine sediments, but the body of knowledge for freshwater sediments has subsequently been developed as well and is being incorporated into the Rule, as originally intended. Continue reading