Low Impact Development Code Integration and Standardization of Stormwater Regulations

Whatcom County is in the process of updating its codes and standards to be consistent with the Low Impact Development (LID) principles condition of the 2013-2018 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Western Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit.  As a Phase II Permittee, the County is required to review and update its development codes and standards to make LID the preferred and commonly used approach to site development within the geographic areas of the County covered by the NPDES Permit (cross-hatched areas in the map below).

A secondary goal is to potentially simplify the County’s stormwater regulations (there are currently six different sets of regulations for eight different geographic areas of the County). The draft proposal includes revisions to the County’s development codes and standards, adoption of the 2014 Ecology Stormwater Manual (outright in urban (NPDES) areas of the County and with raised thresholds in the rural areas), and restructuring of the watershed/stormwater management areas.

Public Outreach

The County wants to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to have their voice heard.

In addition to the creation of this project website and the formal public adoption process beginning in July 2016, a Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) was established to facilitate the process of providing input on potential policy, code, and standards revisions. The SAC was comprised of people who work with development and stormwater regulations, including civil engineers, planners, landscape architects, government and tribal agencies, and other technical specialists.

The efforts of the SAC were intended to achieve specific desired outcomes, which included:

  • Provide clear information to the public on low impact development, the LID Principles Project and project proposals;
  • Involve commissions and boards early in and throughout the project;
  • Provide opportunities for interested parties to comment and for people to listen and learn from one another;
  • Seek broad participation of interested groups and individuals to capture differing viewpoints;
  • Harness the energies and knowledge of a broad range of stakeholders to ensure issues and concerns are understood, considered, and addressed wherever possible; and
  • Create a transparent process that documents public input and makes it available for review.

A public workshop, hosted by the BIAWC, was also held on June 29, 2016.

County Council Review

Now that the Planning Commission has issued their recommendations (see below), the proposed code amendments will be forwarded to the County Council for their review, public hearing, and adoption. It is anticipated that the Council will hear a staff presentation on September 13, 2016, and hold their public hearing on October 11, 2016.

Planning Commission Review and Public Hearing

The Planning Commission held a public hearing on the proposal on July 28, 2016, and continued deliberations on August 11, 2016, whereupon they made a recommendation on the code amendments. Their recommended amendments are found below.