ANACORTES — The city of Anacortes will improve its stormwater program as part of a settlement agreement it reached this month with Puget Soundkeeper Alliance.
The Seattle nonprofit alleged in a December 2018 lawsuit that Anacortes had failed to control polluted stormwater runoff. The lawsuit claimed the city was not in compliance with its stormwater permits, which would be a violation of the Clean Water Act.
The Anacortes City Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve a consent decree — a type of settlement that does not include an admission of guilt or wrongdoing, according to court documents.
As part of the settlement, Anacortes agrees to pay $73,000 to cover Puget Soundkeeper’s lawyer fees and legal costs, and make changes to its stormwater program.
Among the changes are a revision of the city’s annual Stormwater Management Program Plan; incorporation of low-impact development (LID) into the city’s development regulations and design standards update; training sessions on stormwater for city staff; and stormwater pollution and prevention education for Anacortes students.
Stormwater is rain and snow runoff that comes off parking lots and roofs and can carry pollutants such as gasoline, chemicals, fertilizers and animal waste into bodies of water.
The city’s code update, passed in July, encourages LID techniques such as rain gardens and porous surfaces to control runoff, according to the code.
Anacortes will also undertake an LID retrofit project of a parking lot across from City Hall as a demonstration project, according to the settlement.
“It’s hard to say the settlement is necessarily the best use of money, but it does resolve the case for us and commits us to doing good things,” Councilman Ryan Walters said Monday.
Anacortes paid $399,142 to outside counsel Foster Garvey of Seattle to represent the city in the Puget Soundkeeper case, City Attorney Darcy Swetnam said in an email.
“I can’t help but feel a little shaken down,” Councilman Matt Miller said Monday. “We’re one of 170 entities Puget Soundkeeper has filed lawsuits against. Our procedures were good and they are going to be better.”
Walters said he encourages residents to bring future concerns about stormwater to the city.
“If someone thinks the city of Anacortes is not doing its part to be environmentally friendly, they should feel free to bring it directly to us,” he said.