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Council approves water program
SEATTLE Although members of the Metropolitan King
County Council voted last year to extend the surface water management service
to eastern King County, the project didn't get the final go-ahead until Sept.
25, with a recommendation that $500,000 be spent as soon as possible on
the most pressing drainage problems.
At the same time, the council approved funds that would help
purchase flood-prone homes along the Snoqualmie River.
Council members voted 7-3 in favor of the surface water
management program. According to county officials, $3.5 million will be used to
fix flooding and drainage problems in rural King County and
Vashon-Maury Island. The vote killed a competing proposal before the council,
which called for a repeal of extending the surface water management
program into rural areas. The program was started in urban King County in 1986.
The delay in the council's vote stemmed from concerns about
fees paid by property owners and how the money would be spent.
Councilwoman, Louise Miller, has said over the intervening months that more
residents began supporting the measure after learning of its benefits.
Miller chaired the Regional Water Quality Committee, which
was formed because of concerns expressed about the proposal. That
committee, as well as others, made recommendations to the County Council about
the surface water management measure. Recommendations made by the
Regional Water Quality Committee included:
Retain the expanded service area for the surface water management
Increase the funding ratio of capital projects to operating expenditures.
Evaluate the fee structure to offer additional discounts to
property owners who use the best management practices and who participate in
"We are putting more money on the ground for projects," Miller
said in a statement. "This will help farmers keep farming and even put
more land into production."
Some property owners had objected to paying a fee for the
program, but Miller said it is money well spent.
"These are storm-water projects that help protect people and
livestock," she said. "The fees that fund this
program will provide assistance and the money for long-sought
improvement projects, and provide grant funding
for rural community partnership projects."
County officials said that since 1992, more than 850 drainage
complaints have been lodged by property owners, but the county was unable
to do anything because it lacked money. With the surface water
management program, they said, county engineers can begin looking for ways to fix
Councilman Larry Phillips, chairman of the Natural Resources,
Parks and Open Space Committee, said, "Preserving our environment for
future generations is probably the single largest obligation we have to our
children and grandchildren. Protecting the region's streams, rivers and lakes
from polluted runoff will help keep our waters clean today, and save
millions of dollars in cleanup costs in the future."
In other business, the County Council approved a $5.9
million spending plan to control flooding and improve drainage in
unincorporated areas. Of this, about $3.8 million
will go to projects in urban areas. In all, more than 40 projects will be
funded through the spending plan.
The $3.8 million will be supplemented with another $1.97 million
in state and federal grants. Projects using grant money include;
buying homes along the Snoqualmie River floodplain, purchasing habitat
near Cedar River and Bear Creek and improving fish passage in
Maplewood Creek, east of Renton.