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PART 1: SAN JUAN COUNTY WATERSHED MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN
SECTION 4: IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGY
Watershed Management Action Plan
Draft Implementation Strategy
The San Juan County Watershed Action Plan was developed to prevent and eliminate non-point source pollution. At this time, the marine water quality within San Juan County is exceptional compared to other Puget Sound counties. However, the county has reached a critical point in its development where good management decisions are needed to protect and maintain these outstanding conditions. Growth and development put greater and greater pressures on the capacity of natural processes to protect water quality. This calls on the citizens of the county to make careful plans when developing land and to practice good management of domestic, farm, and forest activities. The county and Watershed Management Committee recognize that the investment in maintaining these pristine conditions is desirable, as restoration efforts can be both costly and ineffective.
The action plan contains fifty-five county-wide strategies aimed at eliminating and preventing non-point source pollution before degradation occurs. Since beginning this planning project some of these strategies have already been completed and several are underway. The committee realizes that developing an implementation plan is essential for assuring the remaining strategies are fully implemented. The implementation plan contains the following strategies:
- Lead Agency Responsible for Overseeing Implementation
- Utilization of a Citizens Oversight Committee
- Potential Cost and Revenue Sources
- Provisions for Public Involvement
- Implementation Review and Evaluation
- Procedures for Annual Review and Revisions
The intent of the implementation plan is to assure the Watershed Management Committees goals and objectives are realized. The committee is aware that resources, both staff and money, are the biggest barriers most agencies will face in implementing this plan. The committee spent a great deal of time researching potential funding sources and has including recommendations in this regard.
Lead Agency & Other Implementing Entities
San Juan County Health and Community Services (HCS) will be the lead agency to oversee the implementation of the action plan. HCS was selected given their involvement and commitment in developing the plan from the start. As lead agency, HCS will coordinate, lead and monitor the activities of the various implementing agencies and groups. The committee recognizes that the department does not currently have the resources to effectively oversee the implementation. Therefore the committee recommends that a part-time or contract position be established and funded to oversee plan implementation, staff the citizens advisory committee, identify additional funding sources, and prepare the annual report.
Other county agencies involved in implementation include; the Board of County Commissioners, Planning Department, Conservation District, Permit Center, and Public Works. State agencies involved include; Department of Ecology and Department of Natural Resources.
Citizens Review and Implementation Committee
In order to insure the various concurring agencies implement the action strategies a citizens oversight committee should be established. The committee will assist the lead agency by reviewing the status of the action strategies, evaluating the overall effectiveness of the strategies, and proposing revisions to the plan as necessary to insure the goals and objectives are met. The committee responsibilities should include the following:
1) Overseeing the implementation of the action plan.
2) Evaluating the effectiveness of implemented strategies in meeting the overall goals and objectives.
3) Reviewing results of the long-term water quality monitoring to identify potential "hot spots" and recommend action, if necessary.
4) Reviewing the potential sources of pollution and recommended action strategies to determine if revisions are needed.
5) Assisting the lead agency in revising the action plan if necessary.
6) Assisting the lead agency in completing the annual report in accordance with Chapter 400-12-535 WAC.
Committee membership must include representation from all three districts. Staff from the lead agency will coordinate the committee activities. Representatives from the other implementing agencies will be invited to participate as needed.
Potential Costs and Revenue Sources
Costs required to implement the action strategies have been estimated at well over $1,000,000. This estimate only takes into consideration costs that will be incurred by an implementing entity. Cost to individual homeowners and contractors are unknown and were not included.
Implementation Table B, Plan Implementation, County-Wide Strategies gives an estimated cost for each action strategy. The costs are broken down into two categories, fixed and on-going. Fixed costs are one-time expenses such as developing a program or conducting a survey. On-going cost include operating expenses for additional staff, on-going education programs, maintenance activities and new programs. These cost are estimates only and should not be used as final budgetary figures.
Implementation of the sixty action strategies is dependent on funding. The committee recognizes that many of the agencies listed due not currently have the resources, both in staff and money, to implement the action steps. In this regard the committee has researched numerous funding options and made the following recommendations.
Grant funding, both federal and state, is available and should be sought to implement the action strategies. Grant sources include Centennial Clean Water Funds through the Department of Ecology, funding for water quality projects from Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Federal funding through the Environmental Protection Agency. Various agencies have been successful in obtaining grant funds to carry-out non-point source pollution activities. Recent examples include San Juan County Health and Community Services grant to complete sanitary surveys adjacent to shellfish growing areas and San Juan County Conservation District funding to conduct a survey for riparian restoration and a farm inventory.
Grant funding is only a partial funding solution. Most grants require matching funds which are getting harder and harder to obtain as competition for the funds increase. A permanent funding source is needed to insure implementation of all the action strategies. After reviewing several different options the committee recommends forming a Water Quality Utility District to levy and collect assessments. Funds collected are to be used solely for implementation of non-point source pollution action strategies. San Juan County Health and Community Services should manage the fund as the implementing agency.
Establishing a utility district to fund a water quality program
Step 1. Apply for Centennial Clean Water grant for funding to accomplish Steps 2 through 4. Step 2. Develop a comprehensive water quality program based on the Watershed Management Action Plan. This would include specific goals, objectives, and tasks; interlocal agreements with implementing agencies; scope of work, timelines, and reporting for projects; and an agency oversight committee. Step 3. Draft an enabling ordinance. Step 4. Conduct workshops and hearings for adoption.
Why set up a utility district
A fee system for all homeowners is a fair and stable way to fund needed water quality programs to assure that maintenance of septic systems is affordable, good management practices are supported, long term water quality monitoring is established, and capital improvements funded. In addition, basic funding for a county program opens the door for additional state and federal funds. This type of fee structure has been well supported by citizens in other counties.
Water quality issues
Water quality issues addressed through a comprehensive water quality program include on-site septic operation and maintenance; pollution and flooding from stormwater runoff; aquifer protection; lake, stream, and wetland management and protection; and shellfish protection.
Types of projects
- Long term water quality monitoring;
- Grants and loans for septic maintenance and repair;
- Capital improvements such as septage disposal and stormwater facilities;
- Investigation of pollution sources and remediation;
- Surveys of boating activities, farm practices, on-site septic systems, wildlife impacts, and other potential sources of pollution;
- Educational materials and programs;
- GIS mapping and modeling of hydrology and water quality trends;
- Coordination of easement acquisition and other types of conservation for protection of water quality.
San Juan County Health and Community Services, Planning, Permit Center, Public Works; Town of Friday Harbor; San Juan County Conservation District; WSU Extension Service; and public and private schools.
Continued public involvement is critical for this plan to be fully implemented. The plan was developed by and for the citizens of San Juan County. Public support and involvement is essential for the plan to be successful. Many of the action strategies involve educating the citizens on the importance and benefits of eliminating non-source pollution. The committee feels that strong educational programs and opportunities are critical to making this action plan a success.
Public involvement will also be sought during public hearings to revise ordinances or regulations. A recent example includes the public workshop and hearing held for the proposed countywide Operation and Maintenance program. Additional public input will be provided at the implementation committee.
Implementation Review and Evaluation
The lead agency and implementation committee are responsible for determining the effectiveness of the plan in reducing and preventing non-point source pollution. This will require HCS coordinate and work with the various implementing agencies and review the results of the long-term water quality monitoring project. An annual review workshop should be convened. The purpose of the workshop will be to:
- Hear progress reports from implementing entities.
- Receive feedback from implementing agencies on the relevance the action strategies
- Review water quality data from long-term monitoring project.
- Receive public input
The San Juan County Watershed Action Plan was developed based on the best available information at the time. Changes to control techniques and/or technology may render some of the recommended action steps obsolete. In addition, potential pollution sources may change and water quality may degrade. The committee recognizes this and fully expects the plan to be a working document that is revised periodically. To insure the plan is reviewed and revised, the lead agency and implementing committee are encouraged to review the action plan annually. The review should focus on:
1) Are the action strategies implemented; if not then why not 2) Are the strategies effective 3) Are the strategies still relevant 4) Are additional strategies needed to achieve the desired goals.
After reviewing the plan the lead agency and/or implementing committee may determine that revisions are needed. The implementing committee and the Board of County Commissioners must approve all revisions.
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