Spanaway Watershed Stormwater Management Action Plan

Spanaway Creek fish ladder

Contact Us

Austin Jennings

Senior Water Quality Planner
[email protected]


Pierce County is covered by the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase I Municipal Stormwater Permit. This permit is issued by the Washington State Department of Ecology and sets conditions under which the county may discharge stormwater to the environment. The NPDES Permit covers a broad range of elements, including education, mapping, maintenance activities and watershed planning to ensure receiving waters are protected.


Special Condition S5.C.6.D of the current (2019-24) NPDES Permit requires the county to develop a Stormwater Management Action Plan (SMAP). This plan must address a single sub-basin or catchment area within the same geographic area as the Spanaway Lake Watershed Scale Plan (WSP). The WSP was developed under the previous (2013-19) NPDES Permit cycle. 


The SMAP will contain several elements, including short term (0-6 years) and long term (7-20 years) actions that would improve water quality in the selected basin. Most (98 percent) of the stormwater in this watershed is already infiltrated, so the plan will emphasize treatment options for the areas that discharge directly to natural waterbodies. The plan will also include recommendations for enhanced policy and programmatic actions like inspection and maintenance to help protect water quality. 

According to the NPDES Permit, the county has until December 31, 2022 to submit the SMAP.

Get Involved

Here are some steps you can take if you are interested in reviewing the draft or providing feedback on the stormwater actions included in the plan:

  1. Use this website—we will be posting updates here as the project moves along. Links to open houses, draft documents and more will be posted as they become available.
  2. Get involved with the Chambers Clover Creek Watershed Council (CCWC). The watershed council provides an opportunity for local agencies and citizen groups to coordinate their efforts to benefit the watershed. We’ll be working with the council as this project moves along.
  3. Email the project manager. If you are interested in receiving regular updates or learning more about the project, email Austin Jennings – Senior Water Quality Planner.

Spanaway Watershed SMAP vs. Spanaway Lake Management District (LMD)

Pierce County is currently working on two important programs benefitting the Spanaway Watershed. While these projects are both focused on recommendations that will improve the health of Spanaway Creek and Spanaway Lake, they also have some key differences. 


  • Both will include programmatic recommendations for reducing nonpoint pollution. 
  • Both may include recommendations for capital projects that improve water quality. 
  • Both will consider feedback from the residents of the watershed. 
  • Both are being led by Surface Water Management’s Watershed Services Unit.


Spanaway Watershed SMAP
Spanaway LMD
Funded entirely by SWM fees Funded by assessment on lakefront properties, plus grant funds, state legislative allocations, and SWM fees to cover administrative overhead
Regulatory Drivers
An NPDES Stormwater Permit requirement from the State Department of Ecology Established via ordinance by County Council, in response to citizen petition
Addresses stormwater runoff from county-owned drainage infrastructure (point-sources), primarily through capital improvements that treat stormwater discharges  Work includes phosphorus reduction activities like in-lake phosphorus treatment and nonpoint pollution source control, and also includes aquatic vegetation management
Water Quality Objectives
Primarily concerned with improving stream and riparian health and reducing pollution from metals, bacteria, temperature and sediment resulting from stormwater runoff Work is focused on improving Spanaway Lake, specifically by addressing excess phosphorus, invasive aquatic plant growth, and bacterial and cyanobacterial blooms
Work began in 2021 and will be completed by December 2022 Work began in 2014, and will continue until 2026 (and possibly longer if the LMD is reauthorized by Council)
The draft SMAP will be prepared by the county’s consultant, Brown and Caldwell, and presented to the community for feedback. The revised final plan will be submitted to Ecology for review and approval. Projects from the SMAP will be evaluated against other projects for inclusion in the Surface Water Improvement Plan, our 4-year workplan for capital projects.   The LMD workplan will be prepared annually by SWM, with consideration given to recommendations provided by an appointed citizen advisory group. The proposal will be reviewed by the County Council, and if approved, will direct lake improvement efforts for the following year.