King County plan for creek, lake is under review

March 6, 2012

The state Department of Ecology requested input from residents as officials evaluate the King County-developed plan for shorelines, including Issaquah Creek and Lake Sammamish.

The updated plan is designed to guide construction and development on almost 2,000 miles of marine, stream and lake shorelines countywide. The proposal combines local plans for future development and preservation, plus recent development ordinances and related permitting requirements.

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Department of Ecology enlists teenagers to clean up litter

March 6, 2012

Issaquah teenagers can join the effort to clean up Washington parks and roadsides soon.

The state Department of Ecology’s Northwest Regional Office in Bellevue plans to hire about 72 teenagers to help clean up area roadsides, parks and recreation areas during the summer. Ecology Youth Corps members also learn how to better care for the environment through the program.

Youths ages 14-17 can apply through April 10 to work with one of Ecology Youth Corps crews cleaning up litter this summer in King, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties. Crews work Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., in a four-week session.

Sessions run from June 28 through July 25 and again from July 26 through Aug. 21. Participants earn $9.04 per hour.

Teenagers can pick up applications through area school counselors and at www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/swfa/eyc/nwro.html.

Dollars for the Ecology Youth Corps program comes from a dedicated fund called the Waste Reduction, Recycling and Model Litter Control Account. The account is funded by a voter-approved tax on items related to the litter problem.

King County streamlines rules for wetlands

February 21, 2012

Builders in rural and unincorporated areas can purchase credits to offset construction-related damage to wetlands, after a King County Council decision Jan. 17.

Dow Constantine

County Executive Dow Constantine spearheaded a measure to enable builders to pay a fee, rather than completing projects in a process called mitigation, to compensate for damaged or destroyed wetlands.

The law requires builders to avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands and other sensitive areas as much as possible. Mitigation is required if damage is unavoidable.

The legislation creates “mitigation credits” for builders to purchase to offset damage to wetlands. The county can then use the payments for “mitigation credits” to design, construct and maintain watershed restoration projects.

“This market-based tool is the first of its kind in the state, and will better protect our environment while providing options for the building industry,” Constantine said in a statement.

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King County plan for Issaquah Creek, Lake Sammamish is under review

February 20, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Feb. 20, 2012

The state Department of Ecology requested input from residents as officials evaluate the King County-developed plan for shorelines, including Issaquah Creek and Lake Sammamish.

The updated plan is designed to guide construction and development on almost 2,000 miles of marine, stream and lake shorelines countywide. The proposal combines local plans for future development and preservation, plus recent development ordinances and related permitting requirements.

The county Shoreline Master Program includes stretches of Issaquah Creek — from the headwaters on Tiger Mountain to the Issaquah city limits — and the mouth of the creek in Lake Sammamish State Park.

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Department of Ecology enlists teenagers to clean up litter

February 15, 2012

NEW — 12:15 p.m. Feb. 15, 2012

Issaquah teenagers can join the effort to clean up Washington parks and roadsides soon.

The state Department of Ecology’s Northwest Regional Office in Bellevue plans to hire about 72 teenagers to help clean up area roadsides, parks and recreation areas during the summer. Ecology Youth Corps members also learn how to better care for the environment through the program.

Youths ages 14 to 17 can apply through April 10 to work with one of Ecology Youth Corps crews cleaning up litter this summer in King, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties. Crews work Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., in a four-week session.

Sessions run from June 28 through July 25 and again from July 26 through Aug. 21. Participants earn $9.04 per hour.

Teenagers can pick up applications through area school counselors and online.

Dollars for the Ecology Youth Corps program comes from a dedicated fund called the Waste Reduction, Recycling and Model Litter Control Account.  The account is funded by a voter-approved tax on items related to the litter problem.

The program has been cut back due to the state’s reduced budget. In recent years, litter programs, including the Ecology Youth Corps, lost about a one-third of funding due to the downturn in the economy. The cutback means the agency can hire about 100 fewer youths statewide.

Lawmakers face familiar choices as Legislature girds for budget cuts

January 10, 2012

Local lawmakers returned to Olympia — and a familiar problem — as the Legislature reconvened Jan. 9, less than a month after a budget-cutting special session.

The sluggish economy means lower-than-expected revenues — and a $1.4 billion hole in the 2011-13 budget lawmakers crafted last year. The budget gap could reach $2 billion if lawmakers heed Gov. Chris Gregoire’s call to preserve state reserve dollars.

Legislators chipped almost $480 million from the total in December by cutting budgets at the state education agency — the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction — and the Department of Ecology. Officials also delayed payments to counties and school districts.

“All the easy stuff — if there was any easy stuff in the first place — has already been done,” said Rep. Larry Springer, a 45th Legislative District Democrat. “We’re cutting services that people are going to notice and miss.”

Local lawmakers — Springer’s district includes part of Sammamish — said residents could feel the latest cuts more keenly than past efforts to trim state spending.

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Cascade Water Alliance outlines long-term regional water supply

January 3, 2012

Cascade Water Alliance leaders outlined a plan Dec. 30 to secure water for Issaquah and the region in the decades ahead.

The nonprofit organization purchases water from Seattle Public Utilities, but the water bought from the utility is due to start declining in 2024 as the Cascade Water Alliance switches to other sources. Then, in 2030, officials plan to start drawing water as needed from Lake Tapps in Pierce County.

The information is contained in the transmission and supply plan — a document outlining the water systems in alliance member jurisdictions and plans for the future. Residents can also weigh in, as the plan is open for public comment until Jan. 31.

The regional alliance includes the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District, Issaquah and Bellevue, plus other Eastside and South King County cities and water districts. The agency serves about 400,000 residents and 22,000 businesses.

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State’s recycling rate increases to highest level yet

December 20, 2011

Washington’s recycling rate increased to the highest level ever on record last year, reaching 49 percent.

The information comes from a report released Dec. 14 from the state Department of Ecology. Officials said Washington residents recycled more and tossed less in the trash.

The total amount of municipal waste recycled by state residents increased by more than 540,000 tons last year — up 14 percent from 2009. The total amount of waste disposed from households and businesses decreased through the recession.

The trend continued in 2010 as disposal dropped by about 65,000 tons, or 1 percent.

The statewide recycling goal — established in a 1989 state law — is 50 percent. The national average for recycling last year reached 34 percent.

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Washington recycling rate increases to highest level yet

December 14, 2011

NEW — 11 a.m. Dec. 14, 2011

Washington’s recycling rate increased to the highest level ever on record last year, reaching 49 percent.

The information comes from a report released Wednesday from the state Department of Ecology. Officials said Washington residents recycled more and tossed less in the trash.

The total amount of municipal waste recycled by state residents increased by more than 540,000 tons last year — up 14 percent from 2009. The total amount of waste disposed from households and businesses decreased through the recession.

The trend continued in 2010 as disposal dropped by about 65,000 tons, or 1 percent.

“Reducing and recycling waste have economic, environmental and public health benefits for our state’s residents,” Laurie Davies, Waste 2 Resources Program manager for the Department of Ecology, said in a statement. “It protects our water, reduces our exposure to toxic chemicals which lowers health risks, and can build a clean, ‘green’ economy for Washington’s future.”

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Sunset Materials Inc. fined $3,000 by Department of Ecology

November 29, 2011

Renton business Sunset Materials Inc. was fined $3,000 by the state Department of Ecology for failure to submit quarterly storm water sampling reports as required under the Industrial Stormwater General Permit for two quarters in 2010, and the first and second quarters of 2011.

The department issued more than $47,000 in penalties of $1,000 or more in the third quarter. The department works with thousands of businesses and individuals to ensure compliance with laws written to protect Washington’s air, land and water.

Penalties are issued in cases where noncompliance continues after the department has provided technical assistance or warnings, or for particularly serious violations.

Penalty amounts owed and collected are deposited in special accounts that pay for environmental restoration and enhancement projects; research and development; permitting and regulatory programs; and education and assistance.

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