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Background & History

Past Plans

Photo Gallery of Historical Stormwater Photos

Chronology of Activities Leading to the Formation of the Spokane County Stormwater Utility (SWU)


The Board of County Commissioners appointed a citizens committee (later named Citizens Committee on Stormwater Management, CCSM) to determine whether there are significant stormwater problems in Spokane County


The CCSM submitted a report, "A Study of Stormwater Management Concerns in Spokane County", identifying 3 categories of concern:
  • physical problems (risks to property, life and environment from stormwater)
  • organizational structure (lack of responsibility and authority for preventing/solving stormwater problems)
  • public awareness (lack of public knowledge/concern re: stormwater problems, causes, controls)
The CCSM concluded that Spokane County has taken a piecemeal approach to stormwater management, i.e. each development devised its own system for managing stormwater. Often these systems did not fit together and appeared to make downstream problems worse. The CCSM concluded that the county needed a comprehensive stormwater program to plan, construct and maintain regional stormwater systems.

For each concern, the CCSM recommended policies and actions. The CCSM evaluated options under state law for forming a comprehensive stormwater program.

The CCSM also helped organize citizens in the Central Park Watershed (the Central Park Committee) to evaluate stormwater problems in that area and to make recommendations.


As directed by the Board, the CCSM held public meetings to provide the public with an opportunity to review their recommendations. After 2 public hearings, stormwater policies were adopted into the County's Comprehensive Plan through approval of the Planning Commission and the Board.


The Central Park committee made their final recommendations (need for watershed planning to handle new development). The Board approved the CCSM’s recommendation that a feasibility study be prepared for a comprehensive stormwater management program; agreed to finance 1/2 of the study from General Fund and 1/2 from County Road Fund. James M. Montgomery Consulting Engineers, Inc. was approved to prepare the feasibility study. (Cost of study: $39,935)

The CCSM continued public awareness efforts, including holding a workshop for developers, realtors, design professionals and bankers ("Letting The Land Tell Us") focusing on ideas for using natural drainage as an amenity in new developments.


The feasibility study ("Spokane County Flood Control Zone District Management Plan") was accepted by the Board. The Board directed the CCSM to develop a strategy for additional public awareness.

The feasibility study:
  • provided overview of what a local stormwater program would do and how much it would cost
  • evaluated the service area boundary proposed by the CCSM
  • set out basic strategy for establishing and funding the stormwater program


The Board authorized the CCSM to proceed with public awareness program and agreed to finance a cost of service/rate study. The County Engineer agreed to hire a staff person to provide local research needed for the consultant study. James M. Montgomery was chosen to conduct the study (cost: $60,000.)

CCSM held watershed tours in the North Spokane, Chester Creek and Forker watershed areas) and worked with interested residents on an adopt-a-watershed group in the Chester Creek area.


The CCSM drafted a vision/mission statement, performed more outreach to the public on stormwater management issues, and updated the Planning Commission on the group’s efforts. After much discussion, the CCSM decided to change their recommendation that the comprehensive stormwater program be a flood control zone district. The committee decided that a stormwater utility would be a more flexible and responsive approach to stormwater needs in the county.

An Ad Hoc Committee on Stormwater (developers/design professionals) was formed to advise CCSM about interests of the development community relating to stormwater issues.

Ad Hoc Committee on Stormwater (developers/design professionals) formed to advise CCSM about interests of development community relating to stormwater issues.


The Cost of Service/Rate Study was completed.

Cost of Service/Rate Study:
  • provided specifics about how the proposed stormwater program would operate, how much it would cost, and the steps necessary for establishment
  • recommended county-wide stormwater utility with an established Stormwater Service Area (SWSA) that would receive service and fund the program
  • recommended funding through stormwater service charges based on impervious coverage
  • recommended means of integrating stormwater utility into existing county structure
The CCSM reviewed the study with the Board, and the Board authorized the CCSM to take public comment on the report. The CCSM held 3 public workshops and staff made numerous presentations to service and business groups about the proposed stormwater utility.

The CCSM made final recommendations to the Board regarding establishing a stormwater utility and forwarded recommendations and support of Ad Hoc Committee on Stormwater Management to the Board.


After a final public hearing, Board of County Commissioners established Stormwater Utility. The Board authorized the loan of start up costs (up to a maximum of $170,000) from the Road Fund, with funds to be paid back over 2 years.

The Stormwater Rate Ordinance was approved by Board. Stormwater staff obtained digital orthophotos, through a contract with David Evans and Associates, for determining impervious coverage for billing. Staff prepared the billing for single family residences (annual stormwater fee of $10 per year; one Equivalent Residential Unit or ERU) and non-residential properties (based on the impervious coverage of each parcel).


First stormwater bills sent out by Treasurer's Office. Stormwater budget for 1993 was approximately $1.2 million.

For information about plans, projects and other activities since 1993, see Comprehensive Stormwater Management Plan links at the top of this page.
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