The City of Keizer is mandated by state and federal law to manage its stormwater runoff. This is water that falls from the sky, i.e. rain and snow, and must be dealt with. City officials are tasked with making sure pollutants from the air, ground and street entering local waterways like the Willamette River or Claggett Creek are minimized. These can be anything from leaked oil flowing into stormdrains or loose sediment getting into a creek.
The city currently has a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Permit (NPDES), which allows it to discharge stormwater directly into local waterways. This is reflected in the stormwater fee on residents’ water bills.
It must meet two more mandates to fully comply with the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act:
• Total Maximum Daily Load Implementation Plan – The state developed a plan that shows how much pollution can enter the Willamette River before bacteria levels, water temperature and mercury contamination render it unsuitable for ideal fish spawning or human use, like swimming. Each government that contributes to the pollution – Keizer is one – must have a plan to reduce its contributions.
The city’s plan has been approved, but funding to comply with the plan was not included in the previously-passed stormwater fee.
• UIC Program/Water Pollution Control Facilities Permit – Many cities and counties in Oregon, for various reasons, are not fully served by an interconnected stormwater disposal system. In many of these areas, UIC (Underground Injection Control) devices take runoff off the surface and send it directly underground. Essentially, it disposes of stormwater on or near where it fell to the ground, as opposed to sending it to a nearby waterway via a stormdrain system.
The City of Keizer has approximately 83 of these. Federal and state requirements mandate that the city manage these, including a spill response plan and closing high-risk UICs.
This method of removing stormwater from the surface became popular as development stretched beyond the bounds of connected stormwater systems. Environmental Program Coordinator Elizabeth Sagmiller said that, because Keizer’s water comes from an underground aquifer, correctly-performed stormwater management using UICs can be beneficial. And because of the aquifer, it must be done correctly in order to both comply with environmental regulations and preserve safe drinking water.
UICs are “a very beneficial way to treat stormwater if they’re managed properly because instead of all about stormwater running out to the creek,” Sagmiller said. “It actually helps recharge our aquifer.”
Sagmiller plans to present the matter to the Budget Committee later this month (see related story).