City to study water resiliency with $100k grant

Langley was awarded a $100,000 grant to add a climate element to its comprehensive plan.

The city of Langley has been awarded a $100,000 grant to upgrade its comprehensive plan with the creation of a climate element, which will include a water resiliency study.

Earlier this year, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a new house bill that added climate planning as a new goal of the Growth Management Act, which as a result requires municipal comprehensive plans to have a climate element with a resilience sub-element.

During a special city council meeting this week, Meredith Penny, the city’s director of community planning, explained that the state does not allow the money to be used for any physical projects, infrastructure or site-specific planning.

Penny offered a list of potential implementation actions covered by the grant that staff came up with for the council’s consideration, including the creation of a zero waste ordinance, the development of an electric vehicle usage plan, and the undertaking of a city tree inventory and canopy coverage assessment, among many other climate-related options.

However, the council appeared most willing to tackle a water resiliency plan and aquifer study. Councilmember Rhonda Salerno said she saw this option as offering the city the most bang for its buck.

“We really could use money in order to hire professional consultants that are water experts to give us a sense of what’s happening with our water, what kind of recharge rate, what we might plan in the future to actually measure the recharge because we have some big climate change,” she said.

Councilmember Thomas Gill voiced support for the water resiliency plan and aquifer study as well.

Public Works Director Randi Perry informed the council that she recently found a potential source of $30,000 to update the city’s susceptibility assessment and aquifer modeling as part of the wellhead protection program. She said she would start working on that application immediately. She explained that this work identifies the city’s sanitary control area.

“Modeling our aquifers is going to show us where those actual recharge areas would be, where our aquifer is and how they relate,” Perry said.

In the end, the council unanimously decided that Penny should apply for the water resiliency study under the $100,000 climate element grant. If Perry ends up receiving the $30,000 grant, the climate element implementation item could be changed to a different option on the list.

“However, now that Randi and I are looking into it further, we may end up needing both grant sources to cover the cost of the study,” Penny said in an email Thursday to the Record.