Surface Water Management


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The primary goals of the City of Covington's Surface Water Management (SWM) Section are to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the local citizenry, preserve surface water resources within the City of Covington, and assure compliance with local, state, and federal surface and stormwater regulatory requirements. To accomplish these goals, the SWM Section is developing a Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) that will be implemented over the next few years. The Program will be designed to comply with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program and the five main program elements of the Western Washington Phase II Stormwater Permit.

Over the last thirty years the role of the federal, state, and local stormwater regulations has been to provide minimum standards for the treatment and discharge of stormwater runoff. These regulations lay out the frame work for Covington's SWM Section. In 1987, Congress, under the authority of the Clean Water Act, created the NPDES program. This program requires all public entities that own and operate a stormwater conveyance system to obtain a permit for their stormwater discharges. The main goal of the NPDES program is to effectively prohibit non-stormwater discharges into "waters of the state" and to reduce the discharge of pollutants into the stormwater conveyance system. Washington State Department of Ecology was tasked with creating and enforcing a Phase I Permit for larger Cities and Counties and a Phase II Permit for small jurisdictions like Covington. Ecology developed the final Phase II Permit and on January 17, 2007 the Western Washington Phase II Stormwater Permit was issued to 80 Cities and 5 Counties in Western Washington.

The Phase II Permit is divided into five main program elements:

  1. Public education and outreach
  2. Public involvement and participation
  3. Illicit discharge detection and elimination
  4. Controlling runoff from new development, redevelopment and construction sites
  5. Pollution prevention and operation and maintenance for municipal operations

The permit's five program elements are designed to be a set of guidelines for municipalities to follow to help reduce the harmful effects that polluted runoff has on the water quality of lakes, rivers, and streams in Washington. Ecology has given permittees several years to develop and fully implement programs that will comply with the permit. By taking a proactive approach with permit compliance, the City of Covington will be helping to create an environmental balance in the region as well as protecting the salmon and wildlife habitats along Soos Creek, Little Soos Creek, Jenkins Creek, Cranmar Creek and Pipe Lake. We need your input. If you have ideas or suggestions that might help us with the five program elements, please contact us.

Other Regulatory Considerations

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NPDES Stormwater Permit Program
Western Washington Phase II Stormwater Permit
Regional Road Maintenance Endangered Species Act Program Guidelines
Puget Sound Conservation and Recovery Plan
Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 9
2005 Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington 
LID Technical Guidance Manual for Puget Sound

Stormwater Management Program Documents:

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The Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) will be evolving over the next few years and we need your input.  Please review the documents below and let us know what you think.

What Is Stormwater?

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Stormwater is rain water that runs off surfaces such as rooftops, lawns, driveways, paved streets, and parking lots. The problem with this runoff is that as it flows over these surfaces, the water picks up harmful pollutants such as oils, greases, pesticides, fertilizers, pet waste, toxic metals, and other chemicals. This polluted runoff enters the stormwater conveyance system and is either discharged into our streams or left to infiltrate into our ground water. These pollutants can pose a risk to human health and harm fish and wildlife habitat.

How You Can Help

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The City of Covington operates 97 stormwater facilities City wide, that take in runoff from the conveyance system. These facilities are designed to treat the runoff and slowly release it into our streams, ground water, or back into the system. You can help by being a part of the solution and not the problem. Below are a few ways that you can help the City of Covington to ensure that our streams and habitat stay clean and safe for generations to come.

  • Properly dispose of hazardous waste and recycle used motor oil. There are disposal and recycling sites all over the greater King County area. Check out this link to find a disposal site near you.
  • Use fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides sparingly and follow the manufacturer's instructions or use natural yard care techniques.
  • Keep yard waste, trash, and debris off the street and out of the gutters. You can help the flow of stormwater by adopting the catch basin closest to your home and regularly remove any accumulation of leaves and debris. You can also help by not raking or blowing leaves and debris into the streets.
  • Clean up after your pets. Pet waste is a major source of bacteria and nutrients that are harmful to streams. Pick it up and dispose of it properly.
  • Wash your car at a carwash facility or park your car in the grass before you wash it. The mixture of soap and grim that is created by washing your car is toxic to fish and other wildlife. If you use a carwash facility, the wash water is recycled and left over pollutants are sent to the sewage treatment plant.
  • Get involved and be a part of the solution. Spread the word about protecting our streams and habitat from polluted runoff and help the City of Covington create a successful Stormwater Management Program. If you have any questions or comments about Covington's Stormwater Management Program, please contact us.

Stormwater System and Maintenance

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The City of Covington's stormwater conveyance system is designed to collect, treat, and slowly release stormwater to our streams and ground water supply. Regular maintenance of the system will ensure proper function and meet water quality standards. There are two challenges that affect every stormwater maintenance program. As the systems ages, it can require more frequent maintenance and repair. Every new development project can add more system that needs to be maintained. Covington has several programs in place to keep our system functioning:

  • Drainage Facility Inspection and Maintenance
  • Street Sweeping Contract
  • Catch Basin Cleaning Contract
  • Shoulder and Ditching Program
  • Stormwater 6 year Capital Improvement Program
  • Stormwater System Map

                                                         System Inventory as of 2010


Catch Basins


Miles of Pipe


Public Drainage Facilities

West Nile Virus

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The West Nile Virus (WNV) causes West Nile fever and West Nile meningitis, encephalitis and West Nile poliomyelitis. It can infect people, birds, mosquitoes, horses and other animals. WNV is established as a seasonal epidemic in North America that flares up in the summer and continues into the fall. In Washington State the virus was first found in horses and birds in 2002. The first human infection by WNV in Washington State occurred in 2006.

WNV is spread to people mainly by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected after feeding on birds that carry the virus. WNV is not spread by direct contact with infected animals or people, but care should always be used when handling sick or dead animals.

Help fight the possible spread of WNV by reducing the number of mosquitoes in areas where you work or play. Mosquitoes prefer to breed in shallow, stagnate, and warm water. By draining or removing sources of standing water, you reduce the number of places mosquitoes can lay their eggs and breed. Here are a few helpful tips for protecting yourself from WNV:

  • Empty anything outdoors that holds standing water. Any standing water can serve as a mosquito breeding site.
  • Change water in birdbaths, fountains, wading pools and animal troughs weekly.
  • Make sure that roof gutters drain properly.
  • Fix leaky outdoor faucets and sprinklers.
  • Make sure that windows and door screens are "bug tight". If not, repair or replace them.
  • Stay indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are the most active.
  • Wear protective clothing (long sleeves, long pants and a hat) when going into mosquito-infested areas.
  • Use mosquito repellant when necessary, and carefully follow the directions on the label. Effective repellents contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Assist elderly neighbors and relatives in these tasks to help keep them safe from mosquito bites.

For more information:

Public Health - Seattle and King County

Washington State Department of Health West Nile Virus Website

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Volunteer Opportunities

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The City of Covington is always looking for opportunities to work with volunteers. The Surface Water Management Section is currently developing several volunteer programs, but we need your help. If you have ideas for possible surface water volunteer projects or programs or would like to volunteer your time, please contact us.

Volunteer programs currently in development:

  • Adopt a catch basin program
  • Catch basin marker program

We want the citizens of Covington to be an active part of the Surface Water Management Program. Your input and help will shape the future of surface water quality in Covington. Bookmark this page and watch the Surface Water Management Section grow. Thank you for your support.

Please contact us if you have questions, comments or suggestions about our Surface Water Management Program. 

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