Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New Washington Stormwater Center leads research to manage rainwater runoff

By Sandy Howard, Department of Ecology communications

If anybody’s going to figure out how to solve pollution problems caused by rainwater runoff, it’s going to be Washington, right?

It’s true: Our state is at the front of the pack in researching new tools and methods to protect our lakes, rivers and marine waters and aquatic life from polluted stormwater runoff.

Officials gathered May 20 to recognize the fact and dedicate the new Washington Stormwater Center. The Center is at WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center. It's a great, new idea that’s just getting legs.

If you got too close during part of the event, you might have gotten wet! Watch this 49-second video and see thirsty pavement gulp down a bucket of water. It’s a new type of parking lot pavement the Center’s low impact development (LID) program is testing.

Two Department of Ecology grants helped start the Washington Stormwater Center and its work. Ecology provided $1 million to the universities and their partner, the City of Puyallup, for the Center and its stormwater technology review work. In an earlier grant, Ecology provided $1 million for the LID research facility at WSU’s Puyallup campus.

The Washington Stormwater Center is shaping up to be everything the Legislature envisioned and more. Josh Baldi, Ecology’s special assistant for water quality and Puget Sound, who spoke at the event, said the Center’s role is pivotal in transitioning stormwater management from ‘words on paper’ in permits, to actions on the ground that helps keep polluted runoff from harming our waters.

Other dignitaries in attendance included U.S. Congressman Norm Dicks (by phone), Washington State University President Elson S. Floyd, EPA Region 10 Administrator, Dennis McClerran, Puyallup Tribe of Indians Tribal Council Chairman Herman Dillon Sr., Puyallup Mayor Kathy Turner, Puget Sound Partnership Executive Director Gerry O’Keefe, Tacoma-Pierce County Economic Development President Bruce Kendall and Pierce County Public Works Director Brian Ziegler.

For more information, see the story in The News Tribune and Washington State University’s news release. Pierce County News also covered the event.

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