BIOSWALE UW: San Juan Basin Regional Green Stormwater Infrastructure Facility
Our interdisciplinary team of University of Washington students, faculty, Miller Hull design professionals, and KPFF engineers would like to share with you this proposal to create a new on-campus regional stormwater treatment facility. The facility we propose would be constructed in concert with the new Health Sciences Education Building (HSEB) and serve a basin of ~34 acres which consists both of University-owned land and City of Seattle right-of-way, discharging to a UW-owned storm outfall to Portage Bay. Runoff from the existing basin is currently untreated. Creating a regional stormwater quality treatment facility will proactively preclude the need for site-by-site required stormwater treatment with any campus development by creating one regional facility. Just upstream of the existing outfall; a flow-splitter will be installed, diverting flow to an abandoned concrete flume historically used in conjunction with the teaching lab for civil engineering classes. Bioretention soil, plants, and necessary infrastructure will be installed within that flume. The proposed phase one cost of $107,649 would cover associated research-validated design and evaluation and 50% construction materials, the rest of which will be matched by other funding.
Our core project team includes Professor Amy Kim who as a faculty adviser will be responsible for overseeing the project with her PhD student, Erin Horn. Erin will play a large role in project oversight, analysis, and mentoring of graduate and undergraduate researchers working on the project. Dr. Jessica Ray, CEE, will also advise, bringing expertise on selective removal of contaminants in stormwater with low-cost composites and guide student work on the topic both in research and classroom settings. Dr. Brooke, L.Arch, will also serve as a faculty liaison for the project and will guide student research and academic work, including design and implementation of educational signage and the creation of an evaluative white paper on the project. Professional partners include Chris Hellstern, Miller Hull. Puja Shaw, KPFF PE, will be will be responsible for coordinating with UW students and staff, permitting agencies, and the project design team while also overseeing the technical design of the facility. Kara Weaver will be the landscape architecture project manager and will work with UW students and staff, permitting agencies, and the project design team to help integrate the facility into its campus context and to develop soil strategies and planting palettes.
In the first phase of this project, proposed here, work supervised Dr. Amy Kim and Dr. Jessica Ray help guide effective, research-validated media and system design. Ray and Kim will partner with UW Housing & Food Services to convert food waste to biochar to add as a potential soil amendment stormwater treatment media in the flume. Likewise, Dr. Sullivan and students will provide academic expertise in cutting-edge bioremediation plant selection and guide incorporation of campus and community environmental education around themes of ecological well-being and resilience. Student involvement will be a cornerstone of the design, evaluation, and implementation of the regional stormwater treatment facility, and graduate and undergraduate students, both paid and volunteer will drive the project.
The current budget includes directly hiring 2 undergraduate students and 2 graduate students on an hourly basis to be trained to perform water quality testing but also teach them to engage in research by investigating and identifying methods to quantify environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructures. Undergraduate researchers will present their work at the annual UW Undergraduate Research symposium. Dr. Sullivan will also supervise a graduate student who will help guide L. Arch student volunteers involved in the project and will be responsible for collating the results of the course, data and design/management solutions, into a white paper demonstrating the role the new facility played in student education in ecological design and planning.
Graduate students – 2 at 100 hours/quarters for 3 quarters. Erin (PI: Kim) will provide oversight (1 quarter). Fanny, a doctoral student (PI: Dr. Ray) is investigating a new modified sand media for stormwater treatment of legacy contaminants. The new sand media will be compared to and combined with a pyrolyzed biomass charcoal-like adsorption filter media (i.e., biochar) to maximize contaminant removal (1-2 quarters). One student (of Dr. Kim) will investigate the value of multi-disciplinary project and quantify the economic benefits of green infrastructure systems (3-4 quarters). She is currently seeking a grad student that can work on a literature review of a value-driven multi-sector stakeholder decision-making framework to support the building and water intersection.
Undergrads - 2 undergrads for conducting sampling and water quality testing and assist in developing the value assessment framework.
Dr. Kim is a faculty advisor for American Public Works Association (APWA) Student Chapter. Dr. Ray teaches CEE 357 Environmental Engineering for Civil Engineering juniors. Dr. Ray has recruited students from this class who are interested in performing stormwater treatment research. This proposed project is perfectly aligned with the interests of CEE 357 students as it merges civil and environmental engineering principles.
Education & Outreach:
The project will be shared broadly with undergraduate students in CEE through integration into existing courses such as CEE 429 (Sustainability in Building Infrastructure) and CEE 307 (Construction Engineering for 50% of the entire junior class in CEE) taught every year by Dr. Kim. KPFF and Miller Hull will invite students to project meetings, offer office visits, conduct building/site tours, provide internship opportunities, and speak about the project in classes.
This facility will serve as an ongoing resource for students in the Department of Landscape Architecture who will be provided with the opportunity to assess existing conditions, develop conceptual design alternatives and participate in long-term monitoring and adaptive management. Designs will be required to facilitate at least one of two potential program elements by developing conceptual plans for 1) growing edible plants, and/or 2) for growing native plants to remediate water quality issues. During Spring 2020, through LArch 463, Ecological Design and Planning (~50 students), an inaugural cohort of will be introduced to the site and the project. Students will have the opportunity to work with GGN and Kara Weaver PLA to develop design alternatives, which will further provide opportunities for students to network and expand their understanding of professional practice in ecological design and planning projects.
The faculty advisors Amy Kim and Jessica Ray will support the student team to participate in the US EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge (link: https://www.epa.gov/green-infrastructure/campus-rainworks-challenge-0) which is open to any institutions of higher education across the US.
On a campus-wide scale, students will be invited to participate in the project as it develops and will have ongoing opportunities to utilize the stormwater treatment facility for education and sustainable programming. Educational signage to accompany the stormwater treatment site will support campus community environmental education, feature relevant local indigenous knowledge and acknowledgment, and emphasize the CSF project’s ongoing strong transdisciplinary collaboration around stormwater management to holistically addresses environmental and human health as a keystone of sustainable campus development and culture.
- Living Systems and Biodiversity
- Environmental Justice
- Community Development
This work would be followed up with a second phase which would take place upon construction with additional evaluation and educational use and development of the stormwater treatment flume, during which water sampling of the flume would become an important component. Future courses would build use of the facility as a theoretical or applied system within their syllabi and could include site maintenance and/or organization of community educational events as relevant.
While this proposal includes 50% material costs, construction, permitting, and other implementation costs and supervision will be overseen by Miller-Hull and KPFF. Evaluation of project efficacy of stormwater treatment and regulation compliance would be expected regularly from SPU. Maintenance is expected to follow standard procedures in place by UW Facilities maintenance, and additional description can be found in the attached maintenance document, which highlights the benefits of having one regional facility, proposed here, as compared to constructing many with each new project, as will otherwise be required.
Runoff from the existing basin is currently untreated, and future development within the basin would only exceed thresholds for onsite stormwater management (OSM) – not water quality (WQ) treatment. KPFF’s analysis has illustrated that the benefits of a regional WQ facility would provide immediate, ongoing, and measurable benefits far beyond those of project-by-project OSM.
This San Juan Basin Regional Water Quality Facility, which KPFF is currently working with Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and the University of Washington to design would serve a basin of ~34 acres which consists both of University-owned land and City right-of-way, discharging to a 42 inch UW-owned storm outfall to Portage Bay. The proposed regional facility will be located just upstream of the existing outfall; a flow-splitter will be installed on the existing stormwater conveyance system, diverting flow to an abandoned concrete flume historically used in conjunction with the teaching lab for civil engineering classes. Bioretention soil, plants, and necessary infrastructure will be installed within that flume.
Moreover, the creation of this new campus regional stormwater treatment facility in concert with the new Health Sciences Education Building offers a synergistic opportunity to grow transdisciplinary campus involvement around the interconnections of environmental and human health and well-being and deepen interdisciplinary sustainable campus research and education opportunities.
Explain how the impacts will be measured:
Project impact will be evaluated through water quality evaluation, research-validation of design directions, Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), and application of a value assessment framework. Work supervised by Dr. Sullivan will collate the results of her project design survey course, data, and design/management solutions, into a white paper demonstrating the role the new facility played in student education in ecological design and planning.
Toward water quality assessment and research-informed design, Ray and Kim will partner with UW Housing & Food Services to convert food waste to biochar to add as a potential soil amendment stormwater treatment media in the flume. Preliminary tests will be conducted to determine the feasibility of converting food waste to charcoal adsorbent.
Regular water quality sampling will be performed with subsequent analysis to characterize stormwater pollutant profiles and bioswale treatment efficacy. Stormwater pollutant profiles will consist of analyses of trace organic compounds, trace metals and nutrients (e.g., ammonium and phosphate) which are commonly found at elevated concentrations in stormwater runoff in urbanized areas.
Stormwater pollutants will be quantified and characterized using advanced analytical instrumentation in the CEE analytical center, the Department of Chemistry Mass Spectrometry Facility, and the Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute. If a reduction in contaminant load is necessary, the CEE graduate student will apply low-cost pyrolyzed biomass product (i.e., biochar) as a soil amendment to passively absorb trace contaminants in stormwater runoff. The biochar will be prepared using a portion of compost food wastes from UW HFS cafes and dormitories and characterized under the supervision of Professor Ray who has experience in the required surface chemistry and materials characterization techniques.
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:
|2 graduate students - 4 quarters, 90 hours per quarter, $35/hr
|2 undergraduate students - 4 quarters, 75 hours per quarter, $16/hr, $16/hr
|(Total Personnel cost = $34,800 + Benefits = $7,349)
|2 conferences, 2 people per conference -
|$6,000 ($1500 per person)
|Lab computer -
|Materials for filtration system
|Water quality testing -
|L.Arch student hours + other
|Total Campus Involvement Funding Cost
|Total requested -
|Client sourced funding (being organized by Miller-Hull
|Estimated Completion Date
|Design and Research-Validation Part 1 Completion
|Sampling and performance evaluation starts