Friday, April 25, 2014

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Port of Seattle launches pilot project to cleanse storm water

The Port of Seattle launched a two-year pilot project last week aimed at reducing the amount of polluted rain runoff reaching Puget Sound, according to a port statement.

The port is the site of a two-year study of two unique metal boxes that will transform into rain gardens and help reduce pollutants. The research is being conducted in partnership with King Conservation District, Sustainable Seattle, Gealogica, and Splash Boxx.

Moving Green Infrastructure is a research demo project that will test the water quality performance of two unique storm water treatment models—a large "rain garden in a box" and a special soil mix with local, volcanic sands.

Two large steel boxes, called Splash Boxxes, are being installed at Terminal 91. These boxes are a blend of rain garden and cistern, two practices referred to as low impact development, or LID. Water quality from a roof in an industrial port area will be tested before and after going through the boxes to see how these two techniques perform.

This research project aims to find ways to lower the amount of polluted runoff that reaches Puget Sound, which is estimated to be between 14 and 94 million pounds of toxic pollutants each year.

"LID works," said Amy Waterman of Gealogica, "resulting in a 98-99 percent reduction in runoff volume and an 83-99 percent reduction in key pollutants."

"King Conservation District in partnership with Seattle Public Utilities supported this project with a grant for $49,700 because we think it is important to explore innovative solutions for our storm water issues," said Sara Hemphill, executive director, King Conservation District.

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