Moscow residents and businesses likely will pay a monthly stormwater utility fee starting later this year as a result of an Environmental Protection Agency mandate.

The fee was one of several projects and initiatives Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert touched upon in his typical enthusiastic manner Wednesday during his annual State of the City address, which was hosted by the Moscow Chamber of Commerce at the Best Western Plus University Inn in Moscow.

“That’s not a fee that the city of Moscow wants to dump on everybody,” Lambert told the more than 160 people in attendance. “It’s something that we’ve got to do by mandate from the EPA.”

Tyler Palmer, Moscow deputy city supervisor of public works and services, told the Daily News after the meeting that the EPA has been issuing Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System “permits” for decades — mainly to cities larger than Moscow — that force cities to take measures to prevent harmful pollutants from being washed or dumped into stormwater systems, which then feed into local waterways. Paradise Creek and the South Fork of the Palouse River are the Moscow waterways potentially threatened.

Palmer said the average Moscow residential property owner can expect to pay $9.33 per month starting in October.

Residential property owners will fall into either a low, medium or high-impact tier based on the amount of impervious surface on an owner’s property. Palmer said impervious surfaces, such as driveways, rooftops and parking lots, contribute most to stormwater runoff.

Commercial property owners will also pay based on the amount of impervious surfaces on their land.

While Palmer said no one wants to pay an extra fee, the permit will allow the city to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to stormwater system maintenance.

The city will continue to do public outreach about the proposed stormwater utility before the city council can choose to adopt, reject or change the proposed fees and fee structures.

Other key points from Lambert’s address:

The Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport had 138,239 passengers in 2019. Passenger counts have increased every year since 2013, except from 2016 to 2017. Lambert said he would like to see a Pullman-to-Boise flight and that airport officials are working to start one.

Lambert was asked from an audience member about the status of the Third Street vehicular bridge. A pedestrian bridge was installed last year on Third Street after the low bid for the vehicular bridge came in well over the city’s expectation. The city has not budgeted for a vehicular bridge since, so it is up to the city council to decide if it wants to pursue funding for the bridge. Lambert said he hopes a vehicular bridge is installed at some point.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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