Husky Sustainable Storms: Bioswale (Phase 2)

Executive Summary:

HSS requests funding to construct a stormwater bioswale on the University of Washington campus. This project accomplishes 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. 

Husky Sustainable Storms (HSS) requested $9,220 in the first round of CSF funding for 2012 to implement a feasibility study for a bioswale that remediates stormwater from a UW parking lot. HSS developed four alternatives for a bioswale, assessing each alternative’s feasibility in implementation, educational capacity, and cost. Phase One is scheduled for completion in mid-April 2012. 

HSS requests further funding to implement Phase Two of this project, which is the construction of the bioswale. 

Proposed Project (Phase Two): Phase Two funds the implementation and construction of designs outlined in Phase One. As of April 2nd, 2012 the design review process of this project is still underway. Specifically, the four alternative designs developed by HSS are being reviewed by a committee of stakeholders, including Kristine Kenney (UW Landscape Architect), Howard Nakase (UW Grounds Shop), Jim Morin (UW Engineering Services), Peter Dewey (UW Transportation Services). This team advises HSS on aesthetic, engineering, and construction feasibility and assists in obtaining approval of the design.

Because the design review is currently taking place, HSS cannot propose a total cost of the project. In
contrast, HSS proposes a cost limit that guides its design development 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 collaborate with each other on their tasks. They will meet 4-6 hours per week. Beyond group meetings, members work individually up to 6 hours per week.

Participation with UW staff and off-campus professionals will continue in Phase Two.

Upon construction, the project will need volunteers to install plants in the bioswale. We anticipate needing 15 to 30 student volunteers for two to three days.

Education & Outreach:

Five seminars will be conducted in the Spring quarter through College of Built Environments. Seminars will focus on components of the project, including stormwater engineering design, bureaucratic navigation, design, and a community charette about stormwater on-campus. 

Engage 150 students in stormwater education through classroom visits and individual consultation. 

Continue operating and updating website and Facebook page. Advertise outreach materials to professionals and students involved in stormwater management issues.

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: $60,000
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


ItemCost per ItemQuantityTotal Cost
Equipment and Construction
90% of grant award$45,900$45,900
Overrun is 15% of construction costs$6,885$6,885
Publicity and Communication
5% of grant award$3,607.50$3,607.50
General Supplies and Other
5% of grant award$3,607.50$3,607.50
Winter Quarter Grant Award $9,220 (already received)$9,220

Non-CSF Sources:

Source/DescriptionAmount RequestedDate RequestedDate Received
Swanson’s Nursery$100March 6, 2012March 17, 2012
Project Completion Total: $69,320


TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Concept Design (HSS)1 weekApril 3
Design Review (UW-HSS) Contingent on UW Design Committee
Design Development (HSS) 1 week
Schematic Design (HSS) 1 week
Design Review (UW-HSS) Contingent on UW Design Committee
Construction Document Development (90% complete) 2 weeks
Design Review (Landscape Advisory Committee) Contingent on UW Design Committee
Construction Document (100%) 4 days
Final Review (Landscape Advisory Committee)Contingent on UW Design Committee
Construction1 monthLate May or Mid-September

Project Approval Forms: