Lost in the Land of the Lost

Land of the Lost (not!)

Swept down a stormwater pipe and through a dimensional portal, our fearless heroes finds themselves marooned in a strange land. Surrounded by jungle, they wonder: “What is this place?”

Vegetation soars above their heads and the dense understory hides some fascinating (and frightening) characters. Danger lurks at every corner. Rushes hide the slow but ever creepy sleestaks. Grumpy, the T. rex, springs on his prey from the bamboo.

The Marshall family pushes on, determined to fully understand this wondrous world where the soils are 65 percent gravelly sand and 35 percent compost. The water begins its journey looking vaguely like coffee and ends it…well, looking like water.

And yet, the only thing explosive about this world is the plants’ growth rate. The only thing noxious is the occasional weed seed brought in by wind or birds. Yes, the Marshall family has their work cut out for them to understand this exciting biological system.

Environmental connection

This magical land is no fantasy world; it’s a stormwater treatment system at the Port’s West Hylebos Log Yard.

And all is not lost in the land of the log yard treatment system. In fact, it just reached a major milestone many thought impossible: Consistent Attainment under the Clean Water Act’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Industrial Stormwater General Permit (say that five times fast).

“Consistent Attainment” means the log yard has successfully been below the permit’s benchmarks for pollutants for eight consecutive quarters. Those pollutants include turbidity, pH, total suspended solids, total petroleum hydrocarbons, zinc, copper and chemical oxygen demand (say THAT five times fast).

Using nature’s own tools—a magical combination of dirt and plants—stormwater runoff from the log yard is treated through a passive (aggressive) filtration system. This treatment, along with close coordination and cooperation from the tenant TPT and the operator Holbrook, Inc., have turned what once seemed like a lost cause into one of the Port’s premier success stories.

Why does this matter? Almost every drop of rain that hits the ground in our region ends up in Commencement Bay and Puget Sound. Every organism within our waters depends on us to protect them and their habitat. 

See the difference 

The positive impact of the log yard's stormwater treatment system is apparent in these before-and-after photos of the adjacent Kaiser Ditch.

Before: 2010

After: 2016