Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Seattle Port Begins Water Monitoring Project

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Seattle on April 21 kicked off a pilot project aimed at reducing the amount of polluted runoff reaching Puget Sound. The port is hosting a two-year study site for two large metal boxes that will bloom into rain gardens and help reduce pollutants.

Moving Green Infrastructure (MGIF) is a research/demonstration project to test the water quality performance of two state-of-the-art stormwater treatment techniques, a large “rain garden in a box” and a special soil mix with local, volcanic sands.

Two Dumpster-sized steel containers, called “Splash Boxxes,” are being installed side-by-side at Terminal 91. The boxes are a blend of rain garden and cistern, 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 the two techniques perform.

This research/demonstration project is part of growing efforts to reduce the amount of polluted runoff reaching Puget Sound, which is estimated to receive between 14 and 94 million pounds of toxic pollutants annually.

The effort is in partnership with King Conservation District, Sustainable Seattle, Gealogica LLC, and Splash Boxx LLC.

“The Port of Seattle is working with many partners to restore Puget Sound,” port Commissioner Bill Bryant said. “There is no single solution to saving Puget Sound, no silver bullet, but there are hundreds of different things we can do and this is one of them.”

The information from the study is expected to help shed light on the potential for bioretention planter boxes to improve water quality of polluted runoff in commercial/industrial areas and whether soil mixes used in rain gardens and bioswales could be improved.

The port says the water going into each box from the roof runoff will be tested once a month during the rainy seasons for phosphorus, nitrogen, bacteria, zinc and copper.
More information on the project can be seen at http://www.portseattle.org/Newsroom/Documents/MGIF_Project_Details.pdf.