State funds stormwater study

Instead of draining it into Penn Cove, Coupeville officials want to tap into the town’s stormwater to see if it can be put to a better use, such as irrigating farmland.

Staff is studying how much of the town’s stormwater presently heads into Penn Cove and what needs to be done to improve its quality. To help pay for the work, the town recently received $66,000 from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Rex Porter, grant administrator for the town of Coupeville, said the project will determine the condition of the stormwater, update the town’s facilities plan, suggest ways to improve water quality and conduct predesign work for any project that may arise.

“We’re going to be smarter about what we’re putting into Penn Cove,” Porter said, explaining that the possibility of improving Penn Cove water quality while finding a new use for stormwater made the project appealing to the Department of Ecology.

“Anytime you’re eliminating discharge in the sound — that is a good thing,” Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard said.

She said the project funded by the Ecology grant meshes well with work to find uses for the town’s stormwater and wastewater. One of the biggest potential uses for the water is as irrigation for the farms surrounding the town. Officials are determining whether such a use is feasible and a report should be ready in July.

Porter said the town is looking at stormwater as a resource rather than something that has to be thrown away.

Conard pointed out another reason for finding new uses for the town’s stormwater. State regulations will likely change, requiring towns to retain stormwater on land. She said it would be difficult to find space for stormwater in a town that is basically one square mile in length. A date for the regulation change hasn’t been made but she described the change as inevitable.

Once the work concerning the stormwater’s condition and possible use is complete, the town would have to find funding for any capital project that might result from the study.

Conard said there is a good chance the town could receive further funding and that staff is looking for possible grants.

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