Washington State Study to Measure Effectiveness of Stormwater Technologies

Systems for removing toxic substances from stormwater runoff will be installed in three state boatyards in a new research project beginning the first week of October, the Washington state Department of Ecology announced.

The effort aims to protect water quality in Puget Sound and other nearby waters. The project was constructed in an agreement between the Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA), the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and Ecology).

The stormwater pilot project, which kicks off Oct. 5, studies the new technology-based treatment in three boatyards to control levels of copper, lead and zinc found in the facilities' runoff into nearby bodies of water. Rain and surface water that runs through boatyards picks up debris from the yard and the surrounding areas. Copper, a metal used in boat paint to deter plant and animal growth on boats, is of critical concern, state officials said. Studies by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service have shown that dissolved copper harms the sense of smell in juvenile salmon.

Manufacturers of the treatment equipment will install a different technology in each of the three boatyards to reduce the levels of the toxics in their stormwater runoff. The Port of Edmonds boatyard will receive a system using passive adsorptive filtration from Stormwater RX in Portland, Ore. CSR West in Ballard will use technology installed by Water Tectonics of Everett called electrocoagulation, a process by which electromagnetic energy separates metals from water. Canal Boatyard in Ballard will process toxics using ionic exchange through a system installed by Siemens of Vancouver, Wash.

The project partners plan to issue a report on the studies' results in March 2008. The technology which produces the best results, the system which removes the greatest amount of contaminants from stormwater efficiently, may serve as the recommended solution for boatyards across the state.

Organizers of the project believe that the technology from this study could be applied to other industries around the region.

"I'm proud that the boating industry is doing its part to clean up Washington waters," said Michael Campbell, NMTA president. "Not only is this a tremendous step forward for our industry, but it may also encourage other industries to address the runoff from their own properties."