Murky waters for Asotin County Stormwater Program

Murky waters for Asotin County Stormwater Program »Play Video
Buying vactor truck to clean sludge may avoid run-in with federal law.
CLARKSTON, WA - The Regional Stormwater Program in Asotin County is often a topic of concern at commission meetings, as many residents don't feel it's a good use of taxpayer money.

KLEW news digs deeper and learns more about why the County feels a new piece of equipment is vital for the program.

"Passive-aggressive, yeah," concerned resident Rick Rogers.

That's the first thing that came to concerned resident Rick Rogers' mind when Asotin County Public Works Director Jim Bridges brought in a jar of sludge to the commission meeting on Monday. But for Bridges, it's an answer to Rogers' many concerns about cleaning the local stormwater drains.

"And he brings in a jug of dirty water and that's my answer," said Rogers.

"We're charged with cleaning the system by law and to do what we need to find the most efficient and effective method," said Bridges.

Rogers is one of the many residents in the area that regularly voices concern regarding the need for a Regional Stormwater Program.

"I don't think we have a big enough problem where we have to be doing this," said Rogers.

A recent move by the department to possibly purchase a stormwater cleaning device, prompted Rogers to ask the county what pollutants are actually in the stormwater drains that need to be cleaned.

"Our representatives are telling us there are toxins in there," said Rogers. And if there are so demonstrate it, I mean how hard would it be to publish data?"

According to Bridges, if they test for toxins it could wind up costing the County even more money.

"EPA could come in or the Department of Ecology could come in and make us specifically define a cleanup plan to deal with that pollutant," said Bridges.

So instead, they want to buy a vactor truck to clean this sludge in an effort to avoid run-ins with federal law.

"It's impractical to think that a two-man stormwater crew can go out and clean these by hand using shovels and buckets," said Bridges.

If the vactor truck is purchased it'll cost more than $400,000. Bridges said to stay in line with the Clean Water Act, they have to clean the drains. However, Rogers said the grant money that could be used to buy the truck, is still taxpayer money from somewhere in the state."

we'd like to hear you opinion on this issue. Head to our Facebook page to find a link to a picture of the stormwater sludge, and let us know if you think the program and new equipment is important for the county and local rivers.