Husky Sustainable Storms: Bioswale (Phase 1)

Executive Summary:

The purpose of this project is to accomplish the following goals: 

  1. Improve the quality of surface water flowing from the UW campus; 
  2. Advance student engagement in stormwater design, implementation, and education; 
  3. Provide a demonstration for UW engineering and transportation services in addressing stormwater issues. 

In order to accomplish these objectives, HSS has divided them into two phases. Phase One comprises of 

“Feasibility Study” to be conducted in the Winter quarter of 2012. 

Proposed Project (Phase One):

HSS proposes a feasibility study to develop a stormwater design and identify the key bureaucratic paths for implementing a stormwater treatment bioswale. Through this process, HSS will develop several alternatives (three to four) for a bioswale, assessing each alternative’s feasibility in implementation, educational capacity, and cost.

HSS has collaborated with UW staff in Transportation Services, Engineering Services, and Capital Projects Office in identifying sites that improve water quality, are visible to the UW student-body, and advance green infrastructure opportunities on the UW campus. Sites that fulfill this criteria have been identified in and around UW campus parking lots. 

Proposed Project (Phase Two):

Phase Two will fund the implementation and construction of designs outlined in Phase One. HSS plans to finalize the expected construction costs in Phase One, but we anticipate the cost of construction for an improved stormwater facility to be approximately $50,000-$60,000.

This project will improve existing stormwater infrastructure on-campus.

  • Polluted run-off from parking lots can be treated through green infrastructure. We have a preferred site for treating stormwater runoff to the north-end of the main campus. Run-off from the N-5 parking lot (to the east of the main entrance to campus) scored high in a multi-criteria analysis. It is visible to students, presents several design options (as well as cost options), and advances UW’s stormwater treatment plans.
  • Although this site is our preferred site, several additional sites will be considered throughout Phase One.
  • Bio-retention cells and bioswales could provide a visual experience for pedestrians as well as an educational demonstration for students. These water treatment options employ the use of plants and soils to naturally treat stormwater. 
  • The size of the swale and retention cell must be large enough to treat the anticipated stormwater run-off. We anticipate the need to treat 2,500 to 5,000 square-feet of parking lot run-off. If a swale were the best option (cost-effective and best treatment option) then it would be 200ft to 400ft long.
  • We will locate the project in close proximity to existing stormwater infrastructure. Existing underdrains, inlets, and stormwater pipes will reduce the cost of the project significantly. 

Need for Feasibility Funding:

HSS needs feasibility funding in order to complete site selection, project design, project size, and budget. Throughout the time of feasibility funding, HSS will research ways to reduce costs.

If HSS were not to receive feasibility funding, members would continue with the project design and propose a project design in the Winter cycle of the CSF grant. This would significantly lower the possibility of constructing a stormwater project since members would lack the capital needed to collaborate with UW staff through the design process.

Student Involvement:

The project features five core staff.

  • Patrick Green, MUP-MPA (Project Manager for Planning and Outreach – Reporting Liaison)
    Patrick manages the project’s development and authorization process. He will manage reporting to the CSF, budgeting procedures, navigating City of Seattle permitting processes, and negotiating
  • Stefanie Young, MUP (Project Manager for Construction and Implementation)
    Stefanie manages the project’s design development. She possesses a bachelors in architecture and professional experience in architectural project design and development. She has professionally served several architectural firms in Seattle.
  • Matt McNair, CEE (Project Civil Engineer)
    Matt is working towards a Masters in Civil Engineering. His educational and professional background in civil engineering has been instrumental in researching stormwater treatment designs. Through the feasibility study, Matt will continue the site selection process as well as work closely with the UW engineering staff in researching the correct design codes for a stormwater facility.
  • Erica Bush, MUP-MLA (Project Landscape Architect)
    Erica is a current student in Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning. She brings a her experience in design and planning to the projects landscape development. Erica will work closely with Matt and Stefanie in developing plant and soil designs that maximize the effectiveness of green infrastructure and water treatment.
  • Sunni Wissmer, Undergraduate (Project Outreach Coordinator)
    Sunni is an undergraduate at UW who already has experience in developing and implementing rain gardens. She will be assisting all members with their outreach work to student groups and local organizations.

All members will collaborate with each other on their tasks. They will meet 4-6 hours per week. HSS membership has developed a studio course with Jan Whittington, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban Design and Planning, College of Built Environments to be completed in the Winter Quarter of 2012. This course, a studio course earning 5 credits/units, will focus on implementing Phase One of this project. Studio courses pair students with professional projects so they may gain professional experience. It will provide a space for students to meet and collaborate on implementing Phase One and preparing for Phase Two.

Participation with UW staff and off-campus professionals will occur in Phase One. Prior to submitting this grant, UW staff members in Engineering Services, Landscape Architecture, and Transportation Services offered to meet with students regularly throughout Winter Quarter. Their commitment to this project advances the University’s commitment to green infrastructure and stormwater treatment.

Phase Two will create additional student volunteer positions. Positions will be developed in implementing the lecture series/workshops. We anticipate that 3-5 students will be needed for these series. Additionally, we anticipate that volunteers can assist in planting the bioswale. 10-15 students could be needed for this work.

Beyond Phase Two, we anticipate that this project will provide an opportunity for students to maintain and steward green infrastructure. In the coming years, the bioswale could be maintained by students interested in green design and environmental protection. Not only would these opportunities advance the education of students, but they could reduce the operations costs for the University. Volunteer positions such as these could be offered in perpetuity.

Education & Outreach:

Phase One Outreach Methods:

  • Website
  • Facebook
  • Advertise to UW paper and UW website
  • Advertise project to professional councils in the School of Built Environments, Engineering, and water-related programs at the UW.
  • Conduct a Workshop/Seminar on Infrastructure projects for 30 students: This workshop would articulate the opportunities and process for implementing infrastructure on-campus. It would be tailored for University students interested in applying for the CSF grant.
  • Meet with five student groups to consult on navigating University policies regarding environmental infrastructure and programs. Possible groups include the Boating Center, SEED, and the UW Water Seminar. In this process, we anticipate expanding our outreach to 25-30 student-leaders.

Phase One Outreach Goals:

Work Up to 325 Hours of Staff Time:

HSS launched a new level of collaboration between students of the built environment. As a project with legal and regulatory implications for the University of Washington, student involvement of the five HSS members will be intensive and focused. 

  • 180 to 270 hours of student time: 6 to 8 hours per week for nine weeks in the winter quarter
  • 20 hours of faculty time
  • 32 hours of UW staff time

All hours will be catalogued in an excel sheet

Engage Up to 30 Student-Leaders:

Conduct a Workshop/Seminar on Infrastructure projects for 30 students. Through this project, we hope to leverage support and interest in water quality improvements among students on-campus.

In Phase One we have goals to reach 25 to 30 students involved in environmental organizations on-campus. We hope to consult with students interested in navigating University of Washington policies regarding green infrastructure and environmental policies. We hope to tailor these conversations to water quality. Example organizations include SEED, Blue Drinks, the Sailing Club, and the Water Seminar.

Receive Over 250 Web Visits:

We will advertise our web presence and monitor our website and facebook visits. Our website will be advertised to local government, businesses, and non-profit organizations. Example organizations include Friends of the Cedar River Watershed, People for Puget Sound, the Tacoma Water Center, and the Puget Sound Partnership. All organizations will be catalogued.

Engage Up to 50 Students in a Workshop:

We will strive to advertise our Winter Quarter workshop to various organizations on-campus, and prepare for 50 students to attend the workshop. We hope to video tape this workshop and host the footage on our website. Additionally, this workshop could be turned into a podcast and distributed through online media.

In Phase Two we hope to expand these workshops. We anticipate hosting 5-6 workshops through the Spring Quarter. These will feature a lecture series with student, faculty, and professional presentations on stormwater management and their contributions to climate change. At the culmination of these workshops, we wish to hold a charrette for the student community about green infrastructure design and water quality improvements. From these workshops and charrette, we plan to present our results to UW staff working in stormwater treatment and campus planning.

Environmental Impact:
  • Living Systems and Biodiversity
  • Water
Project Longevity:

Environmental Problem:

All UW stormwater flows directly into Portage Bay, adversely impacting local ecology, public health, and the climate. Stormwater runoff carries harmful nutrients, pesticides, oils, and metals into our local waters. It devastates local wildlife, including migrating anadromous fish and native plant species. As the quality of local ecology diminishes, so does its ability to process chemical compounds, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Eventually, the breakdown of this capacity decreases the rate at which carbon is absorbed by aquatic plants. It even increases the methane released by harmful bacteria and algae.

Now is a critical time for UW to invest in green infrastructure methods of stormwater treatment. Specifically, NPDES permits will increase in severity and influence, further restricting the harmful pollutants that UW is allowed to convey to local waters. As a result, the University will be forced to upgrade its stormwater treatment. From interviews with UW staff, HSS has learned that parking lots are a portion of University property that harms water quality. If UW is considering water quality treatment approaches, then now is a critical time to advance green infrastructure alternatives.

Explain how the impacts will be measured:

Urbanization has drastically altered stormwater hydrology and composition resulting in documented negative ecological impacts. The increase of impervious surfaces in the built environment has increased both 1) the volume and velocity of stormwater and 2) deposition rate of pollutants. The remediation of both of these impacts by the design is quantifiable.

  1. The design will remediate a measurable volume of stormwater that currently enters existing stormwater infrastructure. The gallons of water treated by the system per year will be quantified.
  2. The common pollutants found in urban stormwater runoff are quantifiable and well known; the table below shows the national average concentration of common pollutants. 

Table A: National Median Concentration for Chemical Constituents in Stormwater

Constituent Units Urban Runoff
TSS mg/1 54.5 (Smullen and Cave, 1998)
TP mg/1 0.26 (Smullen and Cave, 1998)
TN mg/1 2.00 (Smullen and Cave, 1998)
Cu mg/1 11.1 (Smullen and Cave, 1998)
Pb mg/1 50.7 (Smullen and Cave, 1998)
Zn mg/1 129 (Smullen and Cave, 1998)
F Coli mg/1 1.5 (Schueler, 1999) 


The design can be expected to remediate all of these pollutants in addition to organic chemicals such as oil, gasoline, and pesticides. The mass of Sediment, Phosphorous, Nitrogen, and Metals treated by the system per year will be quantified. 

The design will incorporate an under drain which empties treated water from the system, as well as an attached overflow drain/access hatch. The access hatch will allow the sampling of effluent (treated) water in order to document pollutant concentration reductions. The design can be expected to have the following removal efficiencies outline in Table B.

Table B: Typical Pollutant Removal Rates of Bioretention Systems

Pollutant Pollutant Removal (%)
TSS 81
TP 29
TN 49
NOx 38
Metals 51-71
Bacteria -58

The access hatch will additionally allow the implementation of a flow meter. The flow meter quantifies the volume of water exiting the system.

Total amount requested from the CSF: $9,220
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


ItemCost per ItemQuantityTotal Cost
Equipment and Construction: TBD in Phase One
Publicity and Communication:
Advertising for Outreach$1001$100
Personnel and Wages
Students$0325 hours$0
Professional Engineer Advisors to this project quoted $6000 as a standard price for stamping a project for approval, but we hope to negotiate the price or have this work completed in-kind)$60001$6000
U.W. Engineer$95 per hour8 hours$760
U.W. Landscape Architect $0 per hour8 hours$0
Unanticipated UW staff time $95 per hour8 hours$760
Unanticipated Professional Consultations$100 per hour12 hours$1200
General Supplies and Other
CSF Grand Total:$9,220

Non-CSF Sources:

Source/DescriptionAmount Requested Date Requested Date Received
U.S Environmental Protection Agency: 9th annual P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing People, Prosperity, and the Planet. Three part grant to build comprehensive student participation in the categories of Built Environment, Water, and Infrastructure. $15,000 - $90,000 (2 years) Final Due Date December 22, 2011 May, 2012 (If received)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Governor’s Institute for Community Design. Focuses on outreach and education. Submitting for Request for Proposals Letter of Intent. Potential grant range $325,000 (minimum) to $2 million (maximum) Final Due Date December 5, 2011 April 2012 (If received)
State of Washington Water Research Center: This grant funds research of junior investigators of in engineering and scientific research. While CSF does not fund research, this grant could contribute to the educational opportunities of students as well as future maintenance costs of the project. State of Washington Water Research Center: This grant funds research of junior investigators of in engineering and scientific research. While CSF does not fund research, this grant could contribute to the educational opportunities of students as well as future maintenance costs of the project. Final Due Date December 12, 2011 March 2012 (as a government grant dependent on funds from Congress, the specific date of awards is unclear) (If received)
Project Completion Total: $9,220


TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Identify a need for water quality improvements on the UW campus: Consider the UW Comprehensive Plan, UW Climate Action Plan, and interviews with campus staff (Capital Projects, Engineering Services, Office of Environmental Health and Safety, Transportation Services)June-August 2011Continual process
Initiate Site Selection: Initiate multi-criteria analysis of sites that would 1)improve the quality of water runoff; 2) educate the student-body regarding water quality issues and green infrastructure; 3) offer cost-effective alternative to stormwater designJune-August 2011Continual process
Begin Authorization Request: According to potential sites, identify authorizers pertinent to potential sites. June-August 2011Continual process
Identify Stormwater Designs: Identify cost-efficient stormwater treatment designs and research codes and permits necessary for each designSeptember-November 2011Continual process
Begin strategizing student outreach: Identify resources and facilities that would disseminate information regarding the project and the environmental values it plans to achieve.September-November 2011Continual process
Finalize Sponsors: continue site selection process parallel to sponsorship requestSeptember-November 2011Continual process
Work with professional engineer: : Identify specific permits, design codes. Collaborate with UW engineering staff and a licensed, professional engineer to ensure approval of the designJanuary 3- March 9 2012CSF Winter Quarter Deadline
Designing the bioswale: Landscape, engineering, architectural design, construction documentsJanuary 3- March 9 2012CSF Winter Quarter Deadline
Identify other potential authorizers associated with design specificsJanuary 3- March 9 2012CSF Winter Quarter Deadline

Project Approval Forms: