What’s the Problem?

Polluted rainwater runoff is the leading source of pollution in Puget Sound. A 2015 study showed that local stormwater runoff from urban roadways is so toxic, it can kill an adult coho salmon in as little as 2½ hours. The effects are far reaching on the economy, community health and the environment, particularly our resident orca populations.

During heavy rains, municipal stormwater systems are frequently overwhelmed, resulting in flooded streets, communities and businesses. Rainwater running off roofs and streets picks up contaminants like heavy metals before flowing into our water bodies like Puget Sound, Lake Washington and the Duwamish River.

Much of south Seattle experiences seasonal flooding due to overburdened stormwater systems. Flooding can damage property, disrupt business operations, cause erosion, degrade infrastructure and make stormwater permit compliance difficult.

Mitigating stormwater pollution

Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) offers a range of sustainable solutions that mitigate threats posed by polluted stormwater and flooding. Green infrastructure such as cisterns, rain gardens, vegetated walls and permeable pavement help reduce overflows by reducing the volume of stormwater entering the drainage system and removing pollutants through settling, filtration and absorption.

ECOSS creates GSI demonstration sites to illustrate a wide-range of technologies, products, techniques, maintenance requirements and pricing. For example, ECOSS helped Co Lam Temple install cisterns, which mitigate flooding and provide water for gardens. These functional outdoor learning sites help decision-makers evaluate what’s right for their property and budget.

Tailoring stormwater solutions to businesses

Standard GSI installations are not always feasible for business properties. Rain gardens, for example, are popular among residents, but also require significant space, which might encroach on business operations. If businesses are to adopt stormwater solutions, GSI must be tailored to fit their unique needs and challenges.

In 2018, ECOSS partnered with Equinox Studios to develop a first of-its-kind, large-scale industrial GSI demonstration site. The site showcases new and emerging industrial GSI solutions that can be adopted by any industrial or manufacturing business, such as Grattix boxes, which perform the same functions as a rain garden, but are contained in portable containers with a smaller footprint than traditional rain gardens. When finished, Equinox GSI will collect stormwater from 62,000 square feet of roof space and passively filter 1.3 million gallons of water annually.

Equinox Studios attracts over 18,000 visitors per year. Located in the industrial heart of Seattle, the studio is ideally situated to promote GSI to local industrial businesses and communities.