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Success with Water Quality Project at the Port of Seattle

Pilot program reduces some pollutants by 1000 times

April 22, 2015

The Port of Seattle and environmental groups share results from a pilot project today to reduce the amount of polluted runoff reaching Puget Sound. The Port has hosted a study site for two unique metal boxes that have bloomed into rain gardens to help reduce pollutants called Moving Green Infrastructure Forward. This effort is in partnership with King Conservation District, Sustainable Seattle, Gealogica LLC, and Splash Boxx LLC.

“We’re excited to see these dramatic results in the past year of this pilot program,” said Stephanie Jones Stebbins, Seaport Environmental and Planning Director at the Port of Seattle. “Reducing levels of zinc from stormwater run-off is one of our toughest challenges. We thank our partner organizations and agencies in these efforts.”

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 every year. Two large steel boxes, called Splash Boxxes, were installed at Terminal 91, with results gathered every four weeks. These boxes are a blend of rain garden and cistern, two practices referred to as low impact development, or LID.

The information from this study will help shed light on the potential for these 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.

Moving Green Infrastructure (MGIF) is a research/demonstration project to test the water quality performance of two innovative stormwater treatment techniques, a large “rain garden in a box” and a special soil mix with local, volcanic sands. Water quality from a roof in an industrial port area is being tested before and after going through the boxes to see how these two techniques perform.

“After eight months of sampling, the zinc levels are 1000 times lower at the Boxx output than the roof input after going through the soil and plants in the boxes,” says Alessandra Zuin of Gealogica LLC, the project lead.

“We developed Splash Boxx for just this type of industrial application,” said David Hymel of Splash Boxx LLC. “We are very pleased to be able to provide the delivery system that tests an exciting new bio retention soil mix design.”

“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 stormwater issues,” said Sara Hemphill, Executive Director, King Conservation District.

Splash Boxxes are part of an innovative stormwater research and demonstration project funded by King Conservation District and managed by Sustainable Seattle through a contract with Gealogica LLC.

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