Eastern Washington receiving money for storm water system upgrades - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Eastern Washington receiving money for storm water system upgrades

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YAKIMA, Wash. -- The Department of Ecology has announced $50 million dollars in grants to fund storm water programs in Washington.

It doesn't rain often in Eastern Washington, Yakima only gets 10 to 12 inches of rain on average. But, when it rains it pours.

"Our side of the state, you know, we get the big flush so it's a real high concentration of pollutants all at one time," said Terry Wittmeier, water quality, Department of Ecology.

And outdated storm water systems can't always keep up. That's why the state legislature has set aside $50 million for storm water improvements. This can go towards filter systems, oil and water separators or other storm water improvements.

It's around $550,000 for Benton County, around $200,000 for Franklin and nearly $900,000 for Yakima.

But, before the improvements are made cities have to finish mapping out an underground maze of storm water pipes.

"And find out what discharges into their system that may not be just all storm water it may be residential sewage systems going in that along with any other misconnections," said Wittmeier.

Water from irrigation and home sprinklers also go directly to the rivers so Wittmeier said we can all do our part by not over watering.

The other half of the $50 million will be spilt for competitive grants that communities have to apply for. The money can be spent on maintenance or even staffing for cash strapped public works departments.