When it rains in the Seattle area, sometimes it pours. And when it does, managing the resulting stormwater runoff from Boeing facilities is a shared responsibility of several Boeing teams including Site Services and Environment, Health & Safety.
As with many Boeing sites around the United States, teams at Boeing’s South Park site along the Duwamish Waterway in Seattle test stormwater runoff and report results to state regulators — in this case, the Washington Department of Ecology.
“The Washington state stormwater regulations are among the most stringent environmental standards of all states,” environmental scientist Ray Power said. “We’re required to sample our stormwater runoff quarterly, measuring for the presence of elements such as copper and zinc, pH levels and turbidity.”
There are a number of ways companies such as Boeing can take steps to improve stormwater quality. At its South Park facility, instead of constructing an energy-consuming, chemically based treatment plant, the Site Services team managed the installation of a bioswale — a naturally landscaped area designed to organically filter elements from surface runoff.
“There were a lot of ways we could approach this at South Park, but we really wanted to do something ‘passive,’ green and not requiring a lot of maintenance to keep up,” said Dave Murray, Site Services project administrator. “We chose a bioswale because even though the installation cost was slightly higher in the short term, in the long run it will be offset by reduced maintenance needs. And they’re more esthetically pleasing, too.”
Murray joined forces with Boeing Construction Manager Dan Fishburn, and together they worked with Gary Merlino Construction to do the digging, liner installation, and placement of sand and filtration material along a section of the shoreline. The location was then landscaped with plants native to the area followed by the addition of benches and a walking path for employees to use.
Both Boeing and area employees have been pleased with the results since the project wrapped up. Water testing reveals results far exceeding established targets, and Ray Cross of Shared Services Group Security & Fire Protection noted the area looks more like a landscaped park than a treatment system.
“My initial impression when I first saw the area was that it was well-designed and pleasing to the eye,” he said. “I’d take full advantage of this little ‘greenbelt’ when spring arrives.”
Ultimately, the bioswale installation is an example of the efforts Boeing organizations take to support Build a Better Planet, the company’s strategy to improve environmental performance in all its operations.
“What we’ve done at South Park reduces our footprint on the environment,” said Power, “and it demonstrates the company’s ongoing commitment to responsible stormwater management.”
By Debra Arkell