Request for Permanent Fireworks Ban in South Snohomish County, and Request for Emergency Fire Hazard Ban in 2019

June 18, 2019

Subject: Request for Permanent Fireworks Ban in South Snohomish County, and  Request for Emergency Fire Hazard Ban in 2019   

Attached is a copy of testimony presented by William Lider, PE before the County Council on August 1, 2016.  The Sno-King Watershed Council once again raises these issues and requests Snohomish County to permanently ban the use of fireworks in South Snohomish County.

Furthermore, given the drought conditions that currently exist in South Snohomish County, the County’s Fire Marshall is warranted to declare an emergency and halt the use of fireworks on July 4, 2019.  Below average rainfall has dried out many urban forests that provide stormwater runoff control in winter and help sustain stream base flows during summer low flow periods.   Loss of small urban forests from fires caused by fireworks not only presents a danger to our streams, but creates the potential for loss of property and human life.

Many SKWC members live near urban forests and are concerned about the high fire danger that currently exists in south county. Small pieces of plastic and litter left over from fireworks is not only an eyesore, but another source of pollution to our streams.

Besides the obvious fire, air pollution, safety, and noise issues, fireworks powder contains significant amounts of elemental sulfur.  In the dense Urban Growth Areas, most fireworks are lit on neighborhood streets and sidewalks, which is illegal according to the county and inhibits first responders access to fires and injury accidents related to fireworks.  

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This high sulfur fireworks residue when mixed with water will produce sulfuric acid.  The low pH runoff then contributes to water pollution and acidification of streams which can be especially harmful to fish and aquatic invertebrates during periods of low summer flows when stream water temperatures are high, when oxygen levels are low, and when fish and other aquatic organisms are most stressed. SKWC currently monitors water quality in multiple streams in Snohomish County, and we are concerned about the effects on water quality.

Continued use of fireworks will create a violation the County’s Municipal General Stormwater Permit and be a violation of the source control requirements for pollutants under the Clean Water Act, the County’s 2017 Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP), and the source control requirements under Volume IV of Snohomish County’s 2017 Drainage Manual.  

Specifically, SCC 30.53A.700 does not prohibit use of fireworks in the County’s right-ofways.  If the County continues to allow the use of fireworks in its right-of-way, it will be outright violation of its SWMP, Program to investigate and respond to spills and improper disposal into the County MS4 per Special Condition S5.C.8.f, that states in part:

“Snohomish County, through the Department of Emergency Management, participates in a regional emergency response program that is described in the Snohomish County Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP). The plan designates the Washington State Patrol and the Snohomish County Fire District 11 Hazardous Materials Response Team as the primary agencies responsible for responding to spills of hazardous materials.”

Use of fireworks permitted by County in its right-of-way’s makes SNOCO a participant in the release of sulfuric, hazardous materials.

Reduction of sulfur polluted stormwater runoff resulting from fireworks lit on county roads in summer is particularly important to help reduce the “first flush” effects on streams, some of which provide habitat for endangered Chinook salmon.

Thank you for your consideration of these comments.

Sincerely,

Eric Adman, President Sno-King Watershed Council 7815 NE 192 Street Kenmore, WA 98028 snokingwatershedcouncil@gmail.com

 Note: Fire District No. 1 has since merged with the City of Lynnwood to become the South County Fire District.

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Attachment: Testimony of William Lider, PE, August 1, 2016

cc: Jim Kenny, Chair South County Fire District  jkenny@SouthSnoFire.org  Katelyn Kinn, Puget Soundkeepers  katelyn@pugetsoundkeeper.org  Noah Haglund, Everett Herald   nhaglund@heraldnet.com 

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