BIOSWALE UW: San Juan Basin Regional Green Stormwater Infrastructure Facility

Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $106,200

Letter of Intent:

Dear Campus Sustainability Fund,

Our interdisciplinary team of University of Washington students, faculty, Miller Hull built environment design professionals, and KPFF engineers would like to share with you this LOI regarding a proposal to create a new on-campus regional stormwater treatment facility.

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. 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 is in the process of quantifying pollutant removal of OSM and WQ treatment in a comparable way to illustrate that the benefits of a regional WQ facility would provide immediate, ongoing, and measurable benefits far beyond those of OSM. 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.

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.. Key stakeholders in this project include the University of Washington, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), Department of Landscape Architecture (L.Arch), Miller Hull, KPFF, and Seattle Public Utility (SPU).

Our core project team includes Professor Amy Kim who as a faculty adviser will be responsible for overseeing sampling, analysis, and CEE student researchers. Erin Horn, PhD student of Dr. Kim, will play a large role in sampling, analysis, and supervision of undergraduate researchers. Undergraduate researchers will present their work at the annual UW Undergraduate Research symposium. Dr. Jessica Ray, CEE, will also advise, bringing expertise on selective removal of contaminants in stormwater with low-cost composites. Dr. Brooke Sullivan, will serve as a faculty liaison in the Department of Landscape Architecture for the project and will oversee a Research Assistant for 2019-2020. The RA will also serve as a course TA 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. Chris Hellstern, Miller Hull, brings extensive experience in sustainable architecture including two certified Living Buildings. Puja Shaw, PE, will be the civil engineering project manager and 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. 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.

Regular water quality sampling at the bioswale intake and output 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 cafes and dormitories, and characterized under the supervision of Professor Ray who has experience in the required surface chemistry and materials characterization techniques.

The project will also be shared broadly with undergraduate students in CEE through integration into existing courses such as CEE 429 (Sustainability in Building Infrastructure) taught every year by Dr. Kim.

Thank you for your consideration of this exciting project! Please find a brief overview of our prospective timeline and budget below, with additional detail available upon request.


  • Construction scheduled to start Summer 2020


  • Material (KPFF + Miller Hull) overall permanent material cost * 50% = $48,500
  • L.Arch graduate student~ $6,600
  • Water filters (capital investment) = $10,000
  • WQ testing = $1,000
  • Equipment = $1,500
  • Lab supplies = $1,000
  • CEE PhD student, 2 summers 2 credits ~ $25,000
  • Two CEE undergraduate students, 100 total hours each~ $11,600
  • Conferences- partial support for 2 years at AASHE or similar = $6,000

Preliminary Estimated Total ~ $106,200

Primary Contact First & Last Name: Erin Horn