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$202 million up for grabs from Department of Ecology

OLYMPIA – Benton County’s decision last year to pursue its own groundwater management efforts apart from the Lower Yakima Valley has resulted in the state proposing to provide a $250,000 grant.

That’s according to a statement released last week by the Washington Department of Ecology, which proposes to spend $202 million in dedicated grants and loans to help pay for 70 local projects across the state to protect the health of Washington waters.

The $250,000 proposed for Benton County will provide county residents with well water screening and health information on nitrates in groundwater.

Samples exceeding safe drinking water standards will be referred for further monitoring. A groundwater characterization will be developed to provide a baseline for a community-wide effort to improve groundwater quality.

In addition, the grant money would help the Benton Conservation District to facilitate local efforts in adopting problem-solving recommendations for groudwater nitrate reduction.

The only Yakima County project proposed for funding in the agency’s overall $202 million spending plan is for the city of Toppenish.

The Department of Ecology is proposing a $150,000 grant/loan package for the city of Toppenish to evaluate its wastewater system. Work associated with the proposal would include the purchase of video equipment, developing a capital improvement plan and the elements required for the completion of a general sewer plan.

Funding for water projects in Benton County, Toppenish and the other 68 sites selected is contingent on a final state supplemental budget and final federal appropriations. It becomes available at the start of the state’s next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014.

The public can comment on the proposals by emailing Daniel Thompson at daniel.thompson@ecy.wa.gov.

Written comments can be mailed to Department of Ecology, Water Quality Program, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600, Attn: Daniel Thompson.

Comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Monday, March 24, 2014.

The Department of Ecology will hold a public meeting to discuss the proposed list at 1 p.m., Friday, March 7, at the Pierce County Library in Tacoma.

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