Water Issues

Water Issues

Water related issues have been of primary interest in both the House and Senate this legislative session. With over 50 thousand miles of streams and rivers, 7,800 lakes, and 3,200 miles of coastline it’s no wonder that water is a subject of extreme importance and debate in the state of Washington. Here’s just a few examples.

The Department of Ecology has finalized modifications to the state Department of Transportation stormwater permit which requires treatment of highway runoff from pavement. Untreated runoff can carry contaminants into downstream waters, harming sensitive fish and wildlife habitats.

Substitute Senate Bill 6406 passed the Senate and is in the House for Consideration. Opponents say this bill would weaken state rules aimed at curbing toxic pollution in state waters. Senate Bill 6082 also passed the legislature and states that the DOE must conduct rule making by December 2013 to review and consider whether the current SEPA environmental checklist ensures consideration of potential impacts to agricultural lands of long-term commercial significance. Dairy farmer Jay Gordon reflects on this.

GORDON: For instance, we’ve got roads that run across our valley - the county would have to answer the question, “Does building a road across a valley that floods affect farmers?” And the answer is, yes. So then it gives us an opportunity to say is there something you can do different so you don’t make flooding worse. A lot of businesses have a spot on the SEPA checklist and we’ve asked to have agriculture also included in that because government does take actions that affect agriculture. This at least makes them recognize there’s a consequence.

I’m Lacy Gray and that’s Washington Ag Today on the Northwest Ag Information Network. 

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