In 2013, Whidbey Island Conservation District (WICD) began work on a grant-funded project to study stormwater drainage issues in the Ebey’s Prairie watershed and, in particular, to identify ways to improve water quality. The funding for this project is coming from the National Estuary Program (NEP) from the WA Department of Ecology (Ecology). In Phase I of the project, we monitored water quality and storm flows throughout the watershed to quantify the amount of pollutants being discharged to Puget Sound at the outfall and to identify potential sources of pollutants. We also conducted outreach efforts to educate farmers, homeowners, and others about the water quality issues in the watershed and how their actions might have an impact.
Water quality monitoring has been conducted at seven sites within the watershed, as well as at the outfall at Ebey’s Landing. Flow data has also been collected at three locations. This data has been used to help locate pollutant sources and to calculate total pollutant loads. We have also attempted to identify and map all of the stormwater drainage infrastructure that conveys water toward the outfall. Locating underground pipes, vaults, and drain tiles has been useful in tracing pollutant flow pathways.
WICD has been conducting community outreach to inform residents, farmers, and businesses about water quality issues in the Ebey’s Prairie watershed and how their land management practices can affect water quality. We hosted three meetings with local farmers and other landowners to update them on the progress of our work under these grants. We visited with local businesses about the project and discussed where they fit within the mosaic of land uses within the watershed. We also worked with Coupeville Middle School students, both in the classroom and in the field, to teach them some of the basics of watershed hydrology and local water quality issues.
We are currently working on completing Phase II of the project, in which we are building upon the work completed in our previous grant. In this pre-design project, we are identifying locations within the watershed where water quality treatment technologies can be applied to remove pollutant loads from stormwater flows, improving water quality at the outfall. We are working with landowners to identify pollution prevention and treatment practices they can use to prevent pollution from leaving their property. We are also identifying opportunities for stormwater treatment projects that will reduce both pollutant inputs and stormwater flow in the watershed and developing preliminary designs for the most feasible treatment options.
As an example, we are working with National Parks Service (NPS) to design and construct a system that will collect stormwater from a farm owned by NPS and pump it to a lagoon, where it will be stored for use as irrigation water during the dry season. We have received commitments to fund this project from NPS, the Washington State Conservation Commission, and Island County with funding through the Island Local Integrating Organization process. We are also working with Ecolotree, Inc. to design a bioswale system along the east side of Engle Road, just south of Coupeville town limits. Outreach efforts continue as well, including newsletter articles and website updates.