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Studying our water
WSU unveils new stormwater research center
Friday, May 20, 2011
By Darin Watkins, WSU News Service
A rainy day in Seattle, overlooking I-90. Photo by iStock
PUYALLUP, Wash. - Finding real solutions for cleaning up stormwater is the charge of a new Washington Stormwater Center and Green Infrastructure Partnership program unveiled Monday, June 20, in Puyallup. The center is seen as a critical component needed to meet the Puget Sound Partnership’s goal of restoring the Puget Sound by the year 2020.
“This project really proves what can happen when agencies come together with a single purpose,” said Washington State University President Elson S. Floyd. “Our researchers stand ready to develop the much-needed solutions so vital to the clean-up of our water and of our region.”
The event showcased the formation of a new initiative called the Green Infrastructure Partnership, a group consisting of agencies from the Tacoma and Pierce County region along with the Puyallup tribe, working to address modern challenges associated with water pollution, particularly that caused by stormwater runoff.
“Partnerships like this are critical in our effort to restore Puget Sound for future generations,” said Congressman Norm Dicks. “This important collaboration will help us effectively deal with stormwater pollution and presents us with a unique opportunity to create new jobs here.”
The event also formally announced the creation of the Washington Stormwater Center, a research partnership between WSU and the University of Washington Tacoma Center for Urban Waters.
"The green infrastructure work here has earned the national spotlight and serves as a model for other communities," said EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran. "Each individual entity offered stormwater solutions, and collectively these efforts have made an enormous impact in protecting Clarks Creek and Puget Sound."
Two Department of Ecology grants helped start the 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 a low-impact development (LID) research facility at WSU’s Puyallup campus.
“The Washington Stormwater Center is shaping up to be everything the Legislature envisioned and more. Technical assistance can now come from an entity that is not an environmental regulator, and we’re forming partnerships to help us tackle and solve stormwater pollution problems, “said Washington Department of Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant. “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.”
Building on the recent success of the Clarks Creek project, this collaboration continues to build on the momentum gained through a multi-agency approach.
“We’re proud of WSU-Puyallup and the exciting new work being done there, and we’re very proud of the Clarks Creek Partnership as one of 10 jurisdictions in the nation to be recognized by the EPA in its Green Infrastructure Partnership,” said Puyallup Mayor Kathy Turner. “Small towns like Puyallup can do a lot to save Puget Sound by educating and involving our citizens. The Clarks Creek Initiative is a great example.”
Researchers also offered a hands-on demonstration of how the research is being performed on site and its role in addressing the region’s water pollution challenges, particularly those derived from stormwater runoff. Continued work and leadership in this area will help serve as an economic driver by producing jobs in the area, while offering new innovations, and solutions that result in long term, sustainable development in a healthy watershed.