Center for Urban Waters brings new research to Tacoma
March 3, 2010
The new Center for Urban Waters building on the Thea Foss Waterway will house two research initiatives, the Puget Sound Institute and the Storm Water Technical Resource Center.
Moving-in day for the new Center for Urban Waters building is still a few months away. But while the building has been under construction on the Thea Foss Waterway since last May, Joel Baker, the center's science director, has been getting ready to make good use of it.
Two research initiatives, the Puget Sound Institute and the Storm Water Technical Resource Center, which will be housed at the Center for Urban Waters, are gearing up for action.
Puget Sound Institute
The Puget Sound Institute brings together scientists, engineers and policy makers charged with restoring and protecting Puget Sound, said Baker, a UW Tacoma professor and holder of the Port of Tacoma Chair. Among other activities, the institute will convene panels of experts to address difficult issues faced in restoring and protecting Puget Sound.
One key activity will be to gather leading authorities from diverse fields to conduct commissioned reviews and evaluations, providing credible, consensus-based information to the Legislature, government agencies and other interested groups.
The institute will also form working groups to bring together best-available science research and look for opportunities for progress on environmental issues.
The Puget Sound Institute is a collaboration between the Center for Urban Waters, the Puget Sound Partnership and the UW College of the Environment. Funding for the institute comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Storm Water Technical Resource Center
Urban storm water run-off causes contaminants and topsoil to be washed into Puget Sound. Builders of new construction and renovation projects must obtain permits detailing how they will deal with storm water run-off, such as including retention ponds and water treatments into their plans. And soon the state of Washington will require local governments to further toughen regulatory standards for storm water abatement.
Last year the state Legislature created the Storm Water Technical Resource Center and funded it with a $1 million Washington Department of Ecology grant to the city of Puyallup, the University of Washington Tacoma and the Washington State University Puyallup Research and Extension Center. Co-housed at the Center for Urban Waters and the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center, the new center will help advance storm water efforts on several fronts.
The Storm Water Technical Resource Center is charged with:
reviewing and evaluating new storm water technologies
researching and developing cost-effective technical solutions
testing technical solutions
gathering and sharing information
assisting in the development of storm water control methods
coordinating with federal, state and local agencies and private organizations.
New ideas for treating and dealing with storm water must be certified by the state before they can be used. One of the center's jobs will be to check into these new technologies and see how well they work, then make recommendations to the Department of Ecology about whether to certify them.
"This is an economic development opportunity," Baker said. "Right now, many existing technologies for storm water run-off treatment are owned by out-of-state companies. By certifying emerging technologies that meet Washington's very rigorous standards, we'll invite in-state companies to work on new ideas and encourage outside companies to move here."
Former student Arabelis Wally has received a prestigious fellowship at Johns Hopkins University that will support her graduate work. The Thomas Scholarship is awarded to "exceptional students from ... minority-serving institutions to pursue PhDs in STEM fields ... ."
The average tire contains more than 400 chemicals and compounds, including 6PPD, a tire preservative that transforms to 6PPD-quinone in the environment. Researchers at UW Tacoma and WSU Puyallup discovered 6PPD toxicity. The Center for Urban Waters' Ed Kolodziej is quoted.