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Sunnyside to receive grant to help with stormwater plan

The City of Sunnyside is one of 32 communities across the state to receive a $75,000 grant from the Department of Ecology (DOE) to help address a federal mandate to improve stormwater runoff.

The 32 communities across the state were identified by DOE to be eligible for the grant money, said DOE Public Information Manager Joye Redfield-Wilder.

Redfield-Wilder said the state legislature set aside $2.7 million to serve as seed money for cities with a financial need to help meet the requirements of the phase-two municipal stormwater management permit by spring of 2006.

Part of the requirements for the phase-two permit is for cities such as Sunnyside to obtain a national pollutant discharge elimination system permit and to develop a stormwater management program.

Sunnyside Public Works Director Jim Bridges said the city will be utilizing the $75,000 grant for its stormwater management plan, but isn't quite sure how he will be using the money yet. Bridges just returned from a conference on stormwater management yesterday (Wednesday).

"We have to digest it (the requirements of the DOE grant)," said Bridges, "and see what we are going to do with the (money)."

Bridges said there are a lot of issues ahead for the city in regards to meeting the requirements of the unfunded federal mandate for stormwater management. He said the city will have to hire a consultant to assist with devising a plan and work out issues to improve stormwater runoff with the Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District, as they share joint systems.

Redfield-Wilder said DOE identified the 32 communities receiving the grant monies based on financial need. She added the communities may have been identified as being eligible to receive the money, but they have to let DOE know they will be taking the dollars or the grant will go to some other community.

There are a couple of different requirements for the grant monies, said Redfield-Wilder. She said the money is to be used mainly to help cities develop their stormwater management programs while helping educate the public about stormwater pollution.

"It is a challenge for these communities," said Redfield-Wilder of having the financial resources to meet the stormwater runoff requirements.

Redfield-Wilder explained that there are different guidelines for stormwater management in Eastern Washington than on the west side of the state because of climate conditions.

Redfield-Wilder said some of the community education programs that cities could implement might include the proper way to fertilize a yard or what to do when changing the oil in your car.

"The goal is to avoid pollution to rivers and to our ground water," said Redfield-Wilder.

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