UW Study finds stormwater runoff killing salmon and other fish – UW

It seems to me that there has never been a clearer outcome of a study that allows us take simple action to save our salmon runs. Rain gardens anyone?

The long awaited study from the University of Washington on the toxic effects of stormwater runoff from roads is now complete. The study, which has been documented on this web site previously, showed that runoff captured from highway 520 near the Montlake Cut, was lethal enough to kill fish exposed to it.

Untreated highway runoff, collected in nine separate storm events, was universally lethal to coho relative to unexposed controls. Lastly, the mortality syndrome was prevented when highway runoff was pretreated by soil infiltration, a conventional green stormwater infiltration technology.

The study is found here https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2451727-spromberg-et-al-in-press-j-appl-ecol.html

Longer story on it at the Seattle Times.


PT Event: Rain Garden Installation and Training Nov 20 and 25

The MRC rain garden project on Garfield Street, Port Townsend, will be installed next week. This project is in partnership with the MRC, City of Port Townsend and WSU Extension.  Rain gardens are a great way to mitigate storm water runoff that ends up in storm sewers that empty into the Salish Sea (check out the large one next to the Maritime Center in PT for example. It drains much of the streets above the site).
WSU Extension is also offering a 1-hour educational intro to rain gardens.  We’d love your participation for any of the associated activities—invite a friend!. Here’s a summary:
Storm water from landscapes and roadways is the number one contributor of pollutants to Puget Sound.  Bob Simmons, Water Resources Specialist with WSU Extension, is providing a 1-hour seminar at the WSU Extension offices (380 Jefferson St, Port Townsend)  to help you learn what rain gardens are and how they work, and the four steps to creating and sustaining a rain garden.  WSU Rain Garden Handbooks (the newest “how to” manual from WSU) will be available at the workshop.   To register for the 1-hour program, call WSU Jefferson Extension at 360-379-5610 ext 200 or email wsujeffersoncounty@gmail.com .
INSTALLING RAIN GARDENS  Mon. Nov. 24 from 1-4 pm & Tues. Nov. 25 from 9 am-12
Sign up for a hands-on opportunity to help install a rain garden on Mon. Nov. 24 and/or Tues. Nov. 25 . To register for the installation project, see contact info above. You do not need to attend the evening lecture to volunteer for the installation.

Redmond’s Rain Garden Challenge – Sightline.org

WSU, Jefferson County and Port Townsend all are investing a lot of effort to support rain gardens as a means of reducing storm water runoff from our streets and parking lots. Today’s article shows that there is still a lot of research needed on the engineering of these solutions, and that sometimes, they don’t work. If you care about this technology, you should read this whole story. It has a lot of in-depth information here. This is critical work, in that we are relying on rain gardens to be a significant piece of the puzzle to help restore Puget Sound and it’s wild fish stocks. Research has shown that the kinds of chemicals that rain gardens are supposed to be filtering, are those that can have very serious impacts on salmon, and bottom fish. In lieu of stopping development, they are one of our best possible alternatives to the current state of pollution.

When rain gardens release too much pollution, engineers go back to the drawing board.

In the stormwater world, if a rain garden is releasing more pollution into the environment than it’s capturing, word gets around.

So when the city of Redmond crunched its first flush of data from a new roadside rain garden and discovered the water coming out of it was tainted with alarming levels of phosphorus, nitrates, and copper, the stormwater community took notice. Washington State regulators went on the record to say that they would be studying the data and possibly revising their rain garden recommendations. Proponents of the technology fear that the results will be overblown and exploited by skeptics of so-called low-impact development solutions.


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