WSU Puyallup to get “Green” retrofit

PUYALLUP – The City of Puyallup in partnership with WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center has been awarded a $1 million grant to retrofit the WSU Puyallup campus to significantly reduce stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff is a major source of pollutants in salmon-bearing waterways and ultimately in Puget Sound.

The project will employ “green” development practices including installation of permeable paving surfaces and stormwater bioretention facilities. The grant was awarded by the Washington State Department of Ecology and supported by the Puyallup Tribe. WSU will provide matching funds.

The retrofit project includes a significant research and monitoring component to measure the effectiveness of various low impact development practices. The retrofit also will be used as a public demonstration and education facility on “green” development techniques and materials.

Established in 1894, the center currently has no stormwater control or treatment infrastructure. Runoff from the campus is discharged directly into Woodland Creek, which flows into Clark’s Creek and eventually the Puyallup River.

“Our infrastructure dates from 1895 when the philosophy toward stormwater was to get it off your property as quickly as you can,” according to Jon Newkirk, director of WSU Puyallup. “This facility will be a great laboratory for determining how to retrofit old facilities to meet modern stormwater control needs.”

Mark Higginson, stormwater engineer for the City of Puyallup, sees the project as a tremendous opportunity.

“I’m extremely excited,” Higginson says. “The research will be important to our industry, and this project is important to our community for both the city and WSU.”

Curtis Hinman, low impact development specialist with WSU Pierce County Extension, says the project has two important goals.

“First is to improve the infrastructure of WSU Puyallup campus with regard to controlling runoff, but equally important is the long-term research opportunity,” he says.

Hinman says a variety of permeable surfaces will be used to retrofit paved parking lots and various retention facilities will be installed. That will enable him and other researchers to measure which approaches are not only most effective in directing stormwater back to the aquifer but to measure which do the best job at filtering out pollutants.