Bioswale at Seaview East Boatyard
A Boatyard Staying Ahead of the Regulatory Curve
By Bryan Reeves
Seaview East Boatyard located on Salmon Bay in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood has played a central role in the refit of Ocean Watch. Throughout the more than six-month effort, Seaview has generously donated dock and yard space, hauling and launching, crane work, hull repairs, and has completely refinished the bottom of Ocean Watch.
Seaview is an industry leader in many regards, but has been recently recognized for their efforts to reduce the environmental impacts of their boatyard operations. Over the last several years Seaview has implemented innovative stormwater filtration systems at all four of their locations throughout Puget Sound. These systems dramatically reduce the concentration of contaminants such as copper, lead, and zinc, which are known to have detrimental effects on marine organisms, particularly salmon.
Under pressure from environmental groups such as the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, the Washington State Department of Ecology has been tightening its regulations on the allowable level of copper in stormwater runoff from boatyards. Copper is widely used as the active ingredient in anti-fouling bottom paints, designed to prevent the detrimental buildup of plant and animal matter on the bottoms of boats. As a result, copper finds its way all over the ground at boatyards, in the highest concentrations where hulls are pressured washed, and at lower concentrations where hulls are sanded before being repainted. Unfortunately, few boatyards have come close to meeting the often unenforced regulations.
At the Seaview East boatyard, there are two separate water filtration systems. The smaller system is dedicated to dealing with the contaminated water generated at the “wet prep” pad, the only location at the boatyard where pressure washing is permissible. The larger stormwater system handles the rest of the water which collects at the yard, the majority of which falls from the sky.
The smaller pressure-wash water system is functionally closed loop, with the water used in the pressure washers being reused again and again, while the contaminant-polluted solids are filtered out after each use, collected, and eventually trucked away for safe disposal. Excess water which builds up in the system due to rain is evaporated through a custom sprinkler array that is used on warm days. Water from the smaller system never ends up in Salmon Bay.
The larger stormwater system has two stages. Water from around the yard is first pumped into an above-ground bioswale, approximately three feet in depth and lined with a membrane which prevents fluids and solids from leaching out. Grasses, soil, and gravel within the bioswale serve as the first stage of filtration. The water is then pumped into a StormwateRX filter bank before flowing out into Salmon Bay, with copper levels below the new regulatory limits. Photos of both systems are available at Three Sheets Northwest in a slideshow.
While going above and beyond current stormwater regulations has required Seaview to make significant investments in water filtration systems, company President Phil Riise believes these investments make sense for his business and the environment. Having realized several years ago that more stringent regulations were on the way, Riise has been able to stay ahead of the regulatory curve, and keep Seaview ahead of their competition.
Given their tendency to innovate and assume responsibility for their impacts on the environment, it comes as no surprise that Seaview East Boatyard was willing to support the mission of the Around the Americas project.