The Port of Vancouver USA’s innovative efforts strive to balance sustainable industrial activity, which keeps our local economies strong, with responsible waterway stewardship.
The port’s stormwater management program strives to handle stormwater in a manner that demonstrates best management practices. The number and variety of treatment methods utilized at the port are extensive and include stormwater detention ponds, bio-filtration systems, hydrodynamic separation units and filter vaults.
The port’s stormwater is permitted under two National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits through the Washington State Department of Ecology. First is the Western Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater permit that covers all stormwater on port property that is served by the port’s municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4). Included in the municipal stormwater permit is the port’s Stormwater Management Program, Annual Report and the port’s Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) policy. The second permit is the Industrial Stormwater General permit that covers approximately 160 acres of marine terminal, including Terminal 2, Terminal 3 and portions of Terminal 4. In addition, qualifying construction projects at the port are permitted under the Construction Stormwater General Permit.
The port’s water system provides clean drinking water for some industrial tenants, marine vessels, irrigation and fire protection. Additional water necessary for port operations is provided by the city of Vancouver.
The port informs water users about the quality of our drinking water through an annual Consumer Confidence Report. Titled the Drinking Water Quality Report, the document has consistently confirmed that the port’s water system meets or exceeds state and federal health standards (see below). For copies of all previous reports, please click the archive page below.2021 Drinking Water Quality Report
Innovations at the Port of Vancouver
The port has numerous industry-leading programs designed to preserve and protect our region’s water quality. Here are two examples of innovative designs from port employees:
The Grattix functions as a rain garden in a box, and is built using a food grade plastic 275 gallon drum. Inside, a layer of drain rock is added, followed by an under-drain piping system. This is filled in using a sand filter layer and amended soil consisting of sand and compost. The finishing touches include adding plantings and bark mulch. Learn how to build your own Grattix here. Watch the video here.
Floating Treatment Wetlands (FTW)
FTWs use buoyant material to float on top of a body of water. Vegetation is planted on top so the roots grow into the water to attract and absorb sediments and metals suspended in the water. Larger, heavier sediments and metals sink to the bottom, which is how these ponds are designed. The New Zealand study, which is one of the only known research studies on this issue, shows this holistic approach can reduce the amount of copper by up to 55 percent.