EVERETT — Protect against river flooding. Keep lakes and streams clean. Repair old storm drains and culverts.
Snohomish County’s stormwater officials want to know where to focus their efforts. They’ve scheduled a series of open houses this week to gather opinions. They also put out a survey, available online until Feb. 21.
“What is it that people want us to be doing with their money?” county surface water management director Will Hall asked. “The thing that’s emerging that has the largest number of people saying it’s important is maintenance of the drainage infrastructure. Maintaining water quality is very close behind that.”
More than 4,300 people had responded to the survey by late January. Replies so far have shown strong support for stormwater programs. Only 1 percent said it was not important to maintain stormwater drainage systems or address water pollution, the county reported.
The outreach comes as a consultant readies a new business plan for the county’s stormwater programs. An advisory panel also has gathered input. The 16-person group, which was convened in September, includes farmers, tribal members, business owners, homeowners and nonprofits.
Hall was preparing to brief the County Council on Tuesday.
The county pays for its flooding, drainage and water-quality programs largely through a utility charge that property owners see on their annual tax bill. It costs $90 per year for homes in rural areas and $122 in urban areas.
The budget is now about $36.4 million.
In an effort to save money, the county last year merged three separate stormwater utilities covering different geographical areas. The utility serves 95,000 land parcels, both residential and commercial. It covers all of the county’s unincorporated areas, except for Hat Island and the Tulalip Reservation.
Staff is responsible for drainage inspections, projects to lessen road flooding, monitor water quality in lakes, improve fish habitat and keep up dikes. They spearheaded work last year to build a new outflow pipe from Lake Serene, after a blocked culvert left lakefront homeowners with flooded yards and crawl spaces. The improvements appear to be working so far.
“When drainage infrastructure fails, as it did at Lake Serene last year, it can be expensive to fix,” Hall said.
Strange-looking invertebrate colonies flourishing on Lake Ketchum are a sign that efforts to reduce harmful phosphorous levels have been successful at the Stanwood-area lake.
An upcoming project by the county and the city of Lynnwood will aim to fix a sinking portion of Ash Way near Alderwood mall. Separately, major work is expected to finish this year on the Smith Island project to restore salmon habitat and to protect the surrounding area against flooding.
Take the survey
Snohomish County wants to know which stormwater priorities ratepayers favor. A survey deadline has been extended until Feb. 21: www.surveymonkey.com/r/SnoCoWater.
Four open houses are scheduled this week about the county’s flooding and drainage programs. People are welcome to tell county staff about relevant concerns, share ideas for improving service or learn about assistance programs to promote clean water around their property.
Tuesday 6 to 8 p.m. (southwest Snohomish County): Unity in Lynnwood church, 16727 Alderwood Mall Parkway, Lynnwood.
Wednesday 6 to 8 p.m. (south county): Brightwater Center, 22505 Highway 9, Woodinville.
Thursday 6 to 8 p.m. (north county): Arlington Boys & Girls Club, 18513 59th Ave. NE, Arlington.
Saturday 10 a.m. to noon (east county): Snohomish Senior Center, 506 Fourth Street, Snohomish.