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Culvert Fix May Cost Washington State Millions

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Washington taxpayers look to be on the hook to pay for removal of hundreds of culverts. Those are structures that allow water to pass beneath roadways.

This week the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court order that says the state has to pay for removing culverts that block fish migration.

That is an expensive proposition.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says he believes the state should not be the only responsible party.

“If it’s a responsibility, it’s a shared responsibility," Ferguson said. "So, for example, these culverts at the center of the lawsuit, they were designed under specifications of the federal government, and now there’s concerns they’re not working properly. Our view is, great, they need to be fixed, but why are only taxpayers paying for that, if they were constructed under the requirements of the federal government?” he said.

Ferguson says efforts to remove and fix culverts that block migration may not even work because of other issues like downstream landowners with barriers that block streams.

Ferguson believes the eventual cost to the state could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.