Due to the pandemic, several projects were put on hold in 2020. Nevertheless, ECOSS persevered and continued to serve diverse communities and small businesses. 2021 was a year of growth for ECOSS, with greater female representation in management and promotions of people of color into senior leadership positions. And as public health restrictions loosened, ECOSS’ trusted approach of in-person outreach returned. ECOSS programming served 429 community members and 422 businesses in 2021! Check out the summary of the year in this printable summary sheet.
We at ECOSS loved sharing community and business success stories with you at 2020’s Sustainable Futures Fest. In case you missed it, you can check it out here. ECOSS’ Sustainable Futures Fest returns with more exciting activities in October that highlight how communities and businesses are empowered to be environmentally sustainable.
2020 was a unique year that laid bare the inequities that BIPOC communities face in not only environmental disparities, but also health disparities, access to information and more. The strengths that enable ECOSS to be a leader in environmental equity played a central role in response the COVID-19 pandemic: trusted relationships with frontline communities; shared culture and language; and bridges with industry, community and government.
ECOSS has served 170 businesses and 100 community members through its COVID outreach projects that address financial, technology and information gaps. Additionally, ECOSS continued to strive for its vision of thriving healthy communities despite the new challenges to outreach work. ECOSS’ environmental outreach served over 2,500 community members and business owners in 2020.
In 2019, ECOSS and Equinox Studios co-created an “industrial strength” Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) demonstration site. Prior to installing Grattix Boxes, oyster barrels and other GSI features, ECOSS sampled the stormwater to get a baseline understanding of the types of toxic heavy metals and other pollutants gathering on the roofs and pavement at Equinox Studios. Stormwater solutions filter out toxic heavy metals and other pollutants from rain water that collects on hard surfaces before entering local water bodies. These pollutants are harmful not only to aquatic wildlife, but also to the communities which border the polluted water bodies. So how have the GSI performed?
ECOSS returned to Equinox Studios in 2020 and 2021 to sample stormwater and see how the GSI impacted water quality. Although the team expected some reduction in heavy metals, the effectiveness of Grattix Boxes and oyster barrels was astounding. Here are some highlights:
In 2020, Grattix boxes on-average reduced zinc content by 70-90% compared to 2019 water sampling before they were installed
In 2021, Grattix boxes continued to perform, showing over 80% reduction in copper and zinc
At one Grattix box, stormwater was filtered from 1,700 micrograms of zinc per liter to 139 micrograms per liter – over a 90% reduction!
One downspout is connected to a Grattix Box and oyster barrel combination, reducing copper content by 88%, while zinc dropped to undetectable levels.
These types of GSI installations have helped industrial stormwater permitted businesses reduce their pollutant loads to below their permit benchmarks when maintained regularly, depending on the amount of pollutant they are managing.
ECOSS will continue to monitor these GSI installations and see how filtration power changes over time. The most recent sampling results showed that a combination of GSI systems could work synergistically to filter out heavy metals even better and is particularly useful for areas with greater metal loads. Repeated sampling will also help determine when the materials inside the GSI have to be cleaned or replaced.
Rain water that falls on and passes through the Equinox Studios site ultimately flows to the Duwamish River, which is a Superfund site and one of the most polluted water bodies in the United States. But ECOSS is showing how to mitigate some of that pollution with “industrial-strength” Green Stormwater Infrastructure.
Language is one of the greatest barriers immigrants and refugees face in accessing resources, services and solutions that improve health outcomes and environmental well-being. When it comes to promoting clean water in the Puget Sound region, one of the ways this barrier manifests is in language access to Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI).
Rain gardens not only add beauty to a property, but also filter pollution from stormwater.
GSI such as rain gardens, cisterns and permeable pavement help protect local waters from stormwater pollution. This infrastructure is a great way for homeowners to contribute to Puget Sound’s health. However, the process for scoping, installing and maintaining GSI can be daunting for those unfamiliar, especially if English is not a native language.
Thus, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Month, ECOSS staff have prepared three articles in Traditional Chinese, Spanish and Vietnamese: