The need for strong and consistent stormwater management is evident in our waterways. Stormwater runoff is the primary transporter of toxic, nutrient, and pathogen pollutants to surface and groundwater resources. In many cases, state-mandated stormwater permits require those in the regulated community to meet permit limits designed to better protect our water resources. Municipalities, as well as industrial and business sectors, often turn to consultants for technical know-how to meet permit requirements. The federally mandated National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System stormwater permits are complex and broad reaching, and can be challenging to implement. Also, each time the permits are reissued, there are additional requirements that can create new challenges.
The Washington Stormwater Center formed in 2010 with the mission to protect Washington’s waters through improvements in stormwater management, serving as the central resource in Washington for education, permit technical assistance, stormwater management, and new technology development. The Center strives to provide assistance, information resources, and training on stormwater management, while also serving as a gateway to research, information, and innovative technologies. The expertise of project partners and the full-scale demonstration and research areas at the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center provide a place for training and comprehensive testing of technical solutions.
In addition to providing assistance to municipalities, business, and industry, the Center serves a coordinating role to house the Technology Assessment Protocol – Ecology program, and provides new tools and resources to better understand and control stormwater runoff. The Center played an integral part in developing a statewide Low Impact Development (LID) training plan that is now being used as a guide for Ecology and the state legislature in ensuring that all pertinent audiences in the state receive the training needed to meet new stormwater regulations and codes. This plan was used by the Washington State Department of Ecology, along with a consulting group, to host 64 trainings across the state for stormwater professionals.
Work completed at the Center includes:
- Partnering with jurisdictions to develop 6 stormwater products ranging from an online decant facilities map to an LID comparative cost analyses report;
- The successful design, development and implementation of the first Washington State Municipal Stormwater Conference attended by more than 400 Washington stormwater professionals;
- Participating in eastern WA Stormwater Managers meetings and providing technical assistance options specifically for the eastern Washington stormwater permit;
- New modules, training, and resource sections on the Center’s website;
- Expanding the resource library to include stormwater projects and education tools that have lost funding but are still valuable to permit holders;
- Production of 2 videos and a webinar for business permit holders, including a national award-winning video on innovative best management practices;
- More than 100 participants in the 1st Low Impact Development research program annual review in August 2012;
- Development of a new watershed-based education story-mapping tool for businesses and communities entitled, “ Eyes on the Watershed”; and
- The successful delivery of the WSU LID Technical Workshop certificate program in Fall 2014. This series is a hallmark of the WSU LID program and trains 80 stormwater professionals in 4 two-day workshops.
“The work of Director John Stark and Jennifer McIntyre has brought national attention to the importance of using LID to treat stormwater runoff to protect salmon and aquatic species.”
Funding partners include the Washington Department of Ecology, the Environmental Protection Agency, Boeing Global Corporate Citizenship: northwest region, The Bullitt Foundation, and the Russell Family Foundation.
Much of the Center’s work was designed to be ongoing, building on progress made. Through the broadcasting of relevant, easy-to-locate, and current information regarding stormwater treatment technologies, permit requirements, and best practices, we see more adherence to stormwater regulations and a greater willingness to implement LID, resulting in improvements to water quality. By assisting vendors in developing effective, tested, and verified stormwater treatment technologies, there is improved stormwater treatment at a more competitive price. The use of the extensive, clearly targeted, and consistent statewide low impact development training plan will lead to an increase in properly installed Best Management Practices, greater collaboration on projects, and fewer failed systems.
The Business Resource Program will continue to assist the business community by providing on-site technical assistance and helping to bridge the gap between regulatory agencies, local jurisdictions, and business needs. The municipal program works with jurisdictions and stormwater managers groups to compile, produce, and share educational materials, develop partnerships, and create the inaugural statewide stormwater conference.