Developing Best Management Practices for Campus Stormwater

Campus Stormwater project
Total Amount Awarded: $62,586

The explosive enrollment growth at the University of Washington Bothell (UWB)/Cascadia College (CC) joint campus has been manifested in an aggressive building plan resulting in ever more impervious surfaces, and an ongoing reduction of the surrounding forested area. This, in turn, is increasing the flow and reducing the quality of stormwater discharged to the adjacent campus owned wetland and North Creek.

The UWB/CC joint campus features one of the state’s largest wetland restoration areas, which contains the final reach of North Creek before it discharges into the Sammamish River. Since its inception in 1998, the 58-acre restored floodplain and creek channel has reduced flood discharges downstream and provided other ecosystem services, such as improving water quality and providing habitat for a diversity of native plants and animals. The wetland also serves as a living laboratory for students and faculty. Moreover, the successful stewardship of this wetland and fluvial ecosystem exemplifies UWB’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

This project serves to preserve this wetland ecosystem, North Creek and downstream waters by: (1) instituting a new methodology to monitor and evaluate the impact of campus landscape changes on stormwater flow volumes and quality; (2) assess the impacts of the stormwater discharges on the functionality of the wetland and what is discharged to North Creek; and (3) recommend best management practices and design improvements for the campus stormwater system and surface water features in the wetland.

A thorough assessment is required to characterize the current and potential impacts of the stormwater to enhance our management plan. This project proposes to address this need via a multi-faceted approach. A research team, consisting of faculty, staff, and students, will work to:
1. Monitor discharges and the quality of stormwater flowing from the campus into the UWB/CC wetland.
2. Determine the capacity and functionality of the bioswales and other catchment basins that receive the stormwater.
3. Assess the impacts of our stormwater runoff flows on fluxes of nutrients and fecal coliform bacteria to North Creek.
4. Develop Low Impact Designs (LID) to reduce the velocity/volume of flow in addition to improving water quality of this runoff through bioremediation.
5. Utilize the UWB Geodatabase as the repository for data and analysis.
6. Create an estimate of the change in value of ecosystem services provided by the wetland.

This work, initiated over a one-year period and maintained long-term, will enable us to make informed campus sustainability decisions relevant to the impact of stormwater on human health, environmental quality, and our compliance with environmental standards. In addition, the project will engage many UWB undergraduate students directly in environmental sustainability research, using the campus as a living, learning lab in a collaborative process with our faculty and facilities staff.

Relevance to UW Sustainability Goals:

The UW Environmental Stewardship Policy Statement describes the UW sustainability goals as follows: "By exercising effective management over its activities, the University will promote the sustainable use of its resources, seek to minimize risks to and negative impacts on the environment, and underscore our commitment to protect human health and the environment. Such effective management is exercised through the application of the following expectations:
• The University requires all activities to meet or exceed conformance with applicable environmental standards, regulations, and guidelines.
• Teaching, research, and service activities are conducted in a manner that seek to minimize negative impacts on the environment and promote sound environmental practice.
• Operations reduce resource consumption to the maximum degree feasible.
• Environmental stewardship and sustainability opportunities are promoted in land use, development, and construction practices.
• Environmental concerns are incorporated as a significant priority in University decision-making" (University of Washington, 2004).

Our project would enable us to make significant contributions to meeting or exceeding all of these expectations. Specifically, we will collect the data necessary to make informed campus sustainability decisions relevant to the impact of campus stormwater on environmental quality and our compliance with environmental standards. Specifically by monitoring the flow, quality and bacterial content of stormwater discharges flowing from the campus into the UWB/CC wetland, we will be able to understand our inputs and develop LIDs (i.e. improved bioswales) to reduce the velocity/volume of flow and improve the water quality of this runoff. Furthermore, by assessing the value of these ecosystem services, we can develop cost benefit analysis that can be used in management decisions. In addition, conducting the project will engage many of our undergraduate students directly in important environmental sustainability research in a collaborative process with our faculty and staff, utilizing our facilities.

Timeline:

STORMWATER FLOWS (tasks)
+ Identify desired sampling sites: Winter 2016
+ Generate site map: Winter - Spring 2016
+ Measure runoff during storm events: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Produce GIS maps of data collected via Geodatabase and integrate with water quality data: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Submit progress reports: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Submit final sub-project research report: Winter 2017
+ Present research at conferences and symposia: Winter 2017 - Spring 2017

WATER QUALITY: MICROBIAL CONTENT (tasks)
+ Identify desired sampling sites: Winter 2016
+ Generate site map: Winter 2016
+ E. coli and Camplylobacter jejuni sampling on campus and during rain events: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Laboratory analyses of E. coli and Camplylobacter jejuni samples: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Produce GIS maps of data collected via Geodatabase: Spring 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Submit progress reports: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Submit final sub-project research report: Winter 2017
+ Present research at conferences and symposia: Winter 2017 - Spring 2017

WATER QUALITY: NUTRIENTS AND OTHER POLLUTANTS (tasks)
+ Identify desired sampling sites: Winter 2016
+ Generate site map: Winter 2016
+ Sample on campus and during rain events: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Laboratory analyses if needed: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Produce GIS maps of data collected via Geodatabase: Spring 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Submit progress reports: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Submit final sub-project research report: Winter 2017
+ Present research at conferences and symposia: Winter 2017 - Spring 2017

ECOSYSTEM VALUATION (tasks)
+ Utilize all data gathered on water quality and quantity in Geodatabase to create maps that display baseline data and change results: Summer 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Create hotspot analysis based on maps: Summer 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Work with County, City to measure impacts and report finding to them: Spring 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Analyze current land use patterns and projections of development: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Determine ecosystem service implications of stormwater changes: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Determine economic implications of stormwater changes to ecosystem: Summer 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Submit progress reports: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Submit final sub-project research report: Winter 2017
+ Present research at conferences and symposia: Winter 2017 - Spring 2017

Primary Faculty:
Robert 
Turner
Primary Staff:
Charlotte  
Rasmussen
Primary Student:
Dawn 
Hatfield

This project was funded during the 2015-2016 academic year.