Lots of interesting things on the county council agenda for Tuesday, but this, a $137,000 contract for evaluation of the Lake Whatcom storm water capital facilities plan, caught my eye for several reasons.
A few years ago, a cost/benefit analysis for removing phosphorus from the lake found that capital facilities and engineered storm water solutions were among the very worst values for our money. The per pound cost of phosphorus removal was among the very highest. So why is this the strategy that Louws is pursuing?
Because it is development friendly. It not only allows more watershed development, but it transfers the costs to the public. DOE is now treating new watershed development as phosphorus neutral, based on the presumption (as opposed to proof) that updated storm water standards prevent any excess phosphorus loading. I will not go into the detail, but that is an incorrect assumption.
So what kinds of things were higher rated for reducing storm water run-off?. Exactly what you would expect. Things that had to with protection and restoration of more natural conditions. Not developing more land, restoring developed land and enforcing regulations that already exist. But do not hold your breath for any of those.
The county and city will continue to throw good money after bad.. our money, until they accept the fact that you can not pull out storm water, one function in a complex and inter-related system, and expect things to get better. Nature does not work like that, no matter how much potential profit exists in development.