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Tuesday
Apr102012

Rainwater Management Lessons From Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel

The Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel is a great example of how a stormwater facility can be integrated within high density development.  The project was designed by SvR, a multidisciplinary company of civil engineering, landscape design, environmental restoration and planning in cooperation with Seattle Public Utilities (SPU).  SPU and SvR worked closely with neighboring building developers to provide a 2.7 acre public open space that functions as a stormwater catchment facility for a 680 acre area designed for small, high frequency storms. Stormwater comes from Interstate 5, North Seattle Community College, Northgate Mall, the North Public Transit Hub and surrounding arterials.  Opening in 2009, the "Channel" expanded the open space for the Northgate Urban Center by almost 50% and linked pedestrians to surrounding commercial areas. 

Thornton Creek, a critical salmon bearing stream, had been in decline for many years due to increased urban density.  By diverting stormwater from the drainage pipe under the site into a series of swales, stormwater flow is slowed, allowing soil filtration and the removal of pollution before reaching the creek.

Though this is a highly engineered project, there are many lessons that can be adapted to smaller projects. Native plants connect the space to adjacent riparian zones as well as filter stormwater runoff.  Conveyance swales, pools and cascading weirs demonstrate ways to slow water movement and encourage greater soil filtration.  Boulders and woody debris further enhance the urban habitat.  Stonework transecting the bioswale and the playful site specific artwork of Benson Shaw demonstrates how stormwater solutions can be engaging, celebrating natural processes.  

This project is a valuable lesson on how stormwater management facilities can become valuable amenities to urban life.  When in Seattle, make sure you give yourself time to visit the site.  It's located just south of Northgate Mall, at the intersection of 5th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 103rd Street.

Left: Artist Benson Shaw's Bad Bouys (foreground) & Wiggle Posts; Right: Source of water to "Thornton Creek Channel" & Artist Benson Shaw's "Falling Waters".  Photos by ML Smith

 

For further Information:

SvR, Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel, http://www/svrdesogm/cp,/tcwqc/html

Landscape Architecture Foundation, Case Study Briefs, Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel http://alfoundation.org/research/landscape-performance-series/case-studies/case-study/137/

SPU, Drainage & Sewer Systems, Projects, Thornto Creek Water Quality Channel, http://www.seattle.gov/util/About_SPU/Drainage_&_Sewer_System/Projects/ThorntonCreekWaterQualityChannel/index.htm

 

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    mary lou smith / landscape design - Blog - Rainwater Management Lessons From Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel
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    mary lou smith / landscape design - Blog - Rainwater Management Lessons From Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel

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