A stormwater solution “on the half shell”

By Cari Simson, Stormwater Programs Director

Through the Equinox demonstration site, ECOSS is raising awareness of innovative business solutions that mitigate flooding and stormwater pollution.

On a cold, overcast November morning, staff from the Port of Seattle, King County, ECOSS and local RainWise contractor Stone Soup Gardens met at Equinox Studios to learn how to install cisterns with oyster shells inside as downspout filters. The Port of Seattle has been using oyster shells on their properties for about seven years to improve water quality. Now, they’re sharing their technical expertise with others. The event included all the steps to site, install and maintain cisterns with oyster shells.

Uroosa Fatima, an ECOSS Multicultural Outreach Manager, gets hands-on experience with constructing an oyster barrel. Photo Credit: William Chen / ECOSS.

Areas with a lot of vehicle traffic can produce elevated levels of copper in stormwater, which is harmful to fish and other aquatic species. One way that copper is introduced to stormwater is from vehicle brake pads, which produce brake dust. Oyster shells have shown promising results for removing dissolved copper from water by adsorption inside the barrel — as water flows through the barrel, copper adheres to the oyster shells, which is filtered out of the water.

In the summer of 2019, ECOSS tested for baseline levels of zinc, copper and other contaminants in roof downspouts prior to Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) installations, and will test again in 2020. ECOSS seeks additional businesses to adopt these solutions and can provide technical support. For more information, or to schedule a site visit or tour, contact info@ecoss.org.

Learn more about the Equinox demonstration site

Come check out the Equinox “industrial-strength” GSI demonstration site in person on December 14th at the Equinox Very Open House! 6pm-late!

Gratitude for Grattix boxes

Stormwater runoff is the #1 source of Puget Sound pollution. There are multiple contributing factors and chief among them are the toxicants that are ubiquitous in urban environments, such as metals deposited on roads by vehicles, air pollution deposited on roofs and more. Such toxicants are picked up by the rain on the way to storm drains that flow untreated into our water bodies. And during large storms, the rains can overwhelm sewer systems. Consequently, the polluted stormwater doesn’t reach treatment plants and flow untreated into local water bodies.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) is an effective solution to mitigating stormwater pollution. Cisterns lower the volume of water entering stormwater systems during storms and lower the risk of overflowing combined sewer systems. Rain gardens slow the flow of rainwater while naturally filtering toxins. Programs such as the RainWise rebate program have increased access to stormwater solutions for residents throughout Seattle.

ECOSS seeks to broaden the acceptance of GSI in our region by providing technical services for businesses to help reduce their stormwater pollution. The Duwamish River manufacturing and industrial area has many businesses that rely on their location to do their work. During large storms, these businesses are not only dealing with operational costs in the case of flooding problems, but also potentially responsible for pollution that their properties contribute to the Duwamish River.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) for industrial businesses can help with both flooding concerns and reduce pollution from contaminants that land on rooftops and wash into storm drains. But most businesses have space limitations and operational needs, and the solutions need to be affordable and scalable. Businesses may not know about the breadth of GSI solutions that are possible on their properties, which is where ECOSS can be of service!

Multicultural contractors apply their knowledge of residential GSI solutions to Grattix box construction. Photo Credit: William Chen / ECOSS.

In 2018, ECOSS partnered with Equinox Studios to develop a first of-its-kind, large-scale GSI demonstration site in an industrial area. Equinox Studios, located in the industrial heart of Georgetown, attracts over 18,000 visitors per year and is ideally situated to promote GSI to local industrial businesses and communities. The site showcases emerging and cost-effective GSI solutions that can be easily adopted by property owners seeking to control polluted runoff. When finished in 2020, the Equinox installation will collect stormwater from 62,000 square feet of roof space and passively filter 1.3 million gallons of water annually. ECOSS  Equinox Studios represents an immense potential to reduce toxicants from polluting local waters.

Grattix boxes use varying sizes of sediment to filter stormwater. Photo Credit: William Chen / ECOSS.

One of the innovative GSI solutions that are being featured at Equinox is the Grattix box. Essentially a rain garden in a box, the Grattix allows businesses to benefit from the filtration capabilities of rain gardens without having to dig up their property. These nature-based roof downspout filters remove zinc, copper and other pollutants from roof runoff, and can work in small spaces.

And what better way to learn about Grattix boxes than to go through the process of building one! Using Port of Vancouver’s design as a guide, ECOSS staff, multicultural contractors and members of the public convened at Equinox to learn by doing. From constructing PVC-pipe draining systems to planting native shrubs, just one afternoon of teamwork led to the completion of four complete Grattix boxes.

The event was a triple win for Equinox Studios, the contractors who have added Grattix systems to their repertoire, and the public who will be able to learn about new stormwater solutions.

These Grattix boxes are only the beginning of ECOSS’ vision for an industrial-scale demonstration site. Other cutting-edge solutions for stormwater management to look forward to are permeable pavement, vegetated walls, large cisterns and more. Stay tuned!

Learn more about the Equinox demonstration site!

Come to the Equinox Very Open House on December 14th at 6 pm. ECOSS and others will be at the event and can provide tours and information.

Thank you Aspect Consulting, PureBlue and Equinox Studios for supporting this work.

Additional support for the Equinox GSI project was provided by the Boeing Company, King County Flood Control District, and the Puget Sound Stewardship and Mitigation fund, a grant making fund created by the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and administered by the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment. The Port of Seattle provided in-kind contributions of materials.

Build a Grattix in an afternoon!

ECOSS and Equinox Studios invite you to Learn and Do!

Come learn how to make a Grattix box downspout filter to reduce water pollution. Then help construct a Grattix box and install it under a roof downspout. Grattix boxes and other roof downspout filters bring the benefits of rain gardens to paved areas at homes and businesses and can work in small spaces. The design is particularly effective for removing zinc from galvanized roof surfaces.

Tools and refreshments provided.

In 2018, ECOSS partnered with Equinox Studios to develop a first of-its-kind, large-scale industrial GSI demonstration site. The site, now building Phase 1, will showcase new and emerging industrial GSI solutions that can be adopted by any industrial or manufacturing business. 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.

For more information, or to schedule a site visit or tour, please contact at info@ecoss.orgor (206) 767-0432, ext. 1001.

Cover photo credited to Aspect Consulting.

Rain, rain, come this way

By Cari Simson, Stormwater Programs Director

Rain has returned to Seattle and with it, the acute awareness of the region’s pollution challenges. Recently, the Duwamish River was declared unsafe due to a sewage spill. Spills like this have repercussions for swimming, fishing and other aquatic activities and communities are not always made aware of the dangers. While this particular spill was resolved in just a day, the incident reminds us why stormwater pollution is Puget Sound’s #1 source of pollution.

The size of the Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Plant reflects the magnitude of the stormwater pollution challenge. Photo Credit: Cari Simson / ECOSS.

At the same time, these spills underline the importance of wastewater treatment solutions. Jacobs Engineering invited ECOSS to tour the site of the upcoming King County Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Plant with the entire design and construction team.

Located on S. Michigan Street and 4th Avenue, the Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Plant includes the construction of a combined sewer overflow (CSO) wet weather treatment station between the Brandon Street and South Michigan Street Regulator Stations, related pipes and a new outfall structure to release the treated water into the Duwamish River.

King County began on-site work in April 2017 and expects to finish construction in 2022. When constructed, the Georgetown station will treat up to 70 million gallons of combined rain and wastewater a day that would otherwise have discharged directly to the Duwamish without treatment during storm events. Right now, heavy rains can fill up the city’s sewer pipes, sending polluted runoff and sewage into the river, causing harm to wildlife and human health.

It was fascinating for ECOSS staff to see in-the-ground progress that shows utility investment in these types of large projects. ECOSS works with industry along the Duwamish River on innovative solutions to reduce stormwater pollution. Seeing other examples is not only inspiring, but also a great opportunity to share ideas.

Be on the lookout for news on ECOSS’ industrial-scale stormwater solutions, coming soon!

See more on how ECOSS works with industry to mitigate stormwater pollution

Stormwater Happy Hour! What’s New in Your Stormwater Toolbox?

PureBlue, Salmon Safe and ECOSS look forward to your company at this Stormwater Happy Hour. Meet the scientists and engineers working on some of the most innovative technologies in the region and discuss how we as an industry can drive the selection and implementation of new tools in our stormwater toolbox. For more information on the event and speakers, please see the Facebook event page at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1227182364126237/.

NEBC’s Managing Stormwater in Washington Conference

This focused one-day conference hosted by the Northwest Environmental Business Council is Washington’s leading stormwater event, convening regulated companies, governments, solution providers, and regulators for learning, networking, and business development.  In addition, Managing Stormwater in Washington features the region’s largest stormwater trade show with over 40 service and technology solution providers.

Conference themes:

  • Fundamental Stormwater Management
  • Industrial Stormwater Management
  • Municipal Stormwater Management
  • Science & Research

More details and registration here: http://www.washingtonstormwater.com/

Can’t make the conference? Check out our industrial and municipal stormwater offerings for trainings that fit your needs.

Green business education achieves new milestones in 2018

Polluted stormwater runoff is the #1 pollution source around Puget Sound. Businesses are helping mitigate that pollution.

Spill kit demonstration. Photo Credit: Enviroissues.

During heavy rainfall, water picks up pollutants from impervious surfaces like roads and parking lots. This water flows directly from storm drains to our waterways, harming the health of communities and aquatic life. Industries and municipalities are major originators of the oils, fuels, metals and other pollutants that ultimately contaminate Puget Sound waters. But some businesses want to change that and ECOSS provides the tools to do so.

In 2018, we visited over 1,400 businesses, delivered nearly 650 spill kits and provided spill training and prevention plans in more than 30 Puget Sound cities and counties. Spill kits help businesses keep spilled materials from reaching storm drains in streets, alleys and parking lots.

Outreach is personalized to each business. Photo Credit: Kelvin Kong / ECOSS.

And our offerings for stormwater management workshops and trainings nearly doubled in 2018. Seven industry-focused workshops reached almost 100 individuals and over 80 companies. And 18 municipal-focused workshops trained 625 municipal staff across 37 jurisdictions, agencies and businesses. These workshops help attendees understand permitting requirements, improve stormwater management practices and protect local waters and watersheds.

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Help us expand our business outreach for greener businesses, cleaner waters and healthier communities!