Friday, February 24, 2012

Our Independent Expert Doesn't Appear to be Either

Dr. Adamus was hired as the County's independent wetlands expert, and yet he apparently needs to ask the Department of Ecology about basic matters of wetland regulation.  From the email below, Dr. Adamus does not even seem to know that wetlands are subject to provisions of the Clean Water Act (anti-degradation policy).

This single email is representative of many more, obtained through Public Records Act requests, showing an open and direct line of communication between Dr. Adamus and the Department of Ecology regarding Dr. Adamus' work with San Juan County.  When Dr. Adamus came on board we also got, from the Department of Ecology, Erik Stockdale, Paul Anderson, and Tom Hruby as a "bonus".

Begging the question of whether it is even proper for the Department of Ecology to have a blog in the first place, Ecology's own Eco-Connect blog says, "We don’t have regulatory authority in local critical areas ordinance issues. We don’t make rulings or issue enforcement actions under local critical areas ordinances. Those tasks are on local government turf."

Then why are they involved, and why does our independent expert rely on them so heavily?

From: Paul Adamus [mailto:adamus7@comcast.net] 
Sent: Monday, January 31, 2011 1:35 PM
To: Stockdale, Erik (ECY); Hruby, Tom (ECY)
Subject: BAS-related questions

Erik and Tom,

My questions are as follows:
1. Wetlands and Antidegradation (section 401 CWA).  Must all wetlands in WA be protected from degradation?  How do you explain to the public it's OK for wetlands to be used passively as filters for pollution, yet antidegradation applies?  Can Antidegradation be applied to physical changes to a wetland as well, such as ditching or vegetation removal in the wetland buffer -- which can indirectly affect water temperature?  But then, there are no adopted water quality standards for wetlands, correct?  Have any been adopted in WA for seasonal (Type Ns) streams?

2. Wetlands and stormwater.  Are all wetlands off-limits for intentional routing of stormwater, or only Category I?  Any explicit limits on passive incidental stormwater, other than as described in #1?

3.  Do you know of any WA jurisdictions (other than King Co.) that explicitly allow wetland or stream buffer narrowing if LID practices are used?  How much narrowing, maximum?

4.  For jurisdictions that are considering land use intensity as a factor in tailoring buffer widths, are they all using the land use types or activity types in the WDOE documents to define the intensity levels, or are there some like Island County that use the percent of a parcel's vegetation proposed for removal (and its location) as the primary factor that defines intensity level and thus (partly) the buffer width?

5.  Do any jurisdictions allow an "adaptive management" approach wherein property owners may opt for smaller buffers if they agree to and pay for onsite monitoring of contamination and/or resource harm? I have problems with that approach site-specifically, for the many reasons I mentioned in the BAS.

Thanks,
Paul

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