A Bioswale Comes to Goleta
Coastlines, The University of California Santa Barbara Alumni Association
When Mark Linehan 85 and Kimberly Schizas 77
set out to develop a major "big box" regional shopping center
in Goleta, one of the many hurdles they had to overcome was the potential
that rain runoff would degrade the Devereux Slough. Their solution was
to make an unusual natural filtration system part of the plumbing.
Their Camino Real Marketplace is opening now, store
by store, starting with COSTCO in November 1998 and continuing to the
end of this year, at the corner of Storke Road and Hollister Road. It
houses a mix of national chain and locally-owned businesses. The 83-acre
development is divided between stores on the north (Hollister Avenue)
side and recreational facilities on the south, along Phelps road.
Part of the infrastructure installed in the earliest
stage of the development is an unusual water treatment facility known
as a bioswale. The bioswale occupies 1.86 acres between a softball field
and parking lot adjacent to some planned skating rinks. Linehan and
Schizas studied other examples of bioswales in the Seattle area before
creating the countrys largest bioswale in Goleta. Researchers
from UCSBs Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
assisted in the bioswale by performing benchmark studies of runoff during
its first year of operation.
Studies made in preparation for the development showed
that the natural drainage of the area would channel not only the Camino
Real Marketplace runoff but to that of an additional 76 acres that includes
another shopping center and a business park through the new project
on its way through the Devereux Slough on UCSB West Campus to the Santa
Barbara Channel. And while the new shopping center, with 500,000 square
feet of retail space and parking spaces for 3,300 cars was built with
special storm drain inserts that use diatomaceous earth to filter out
hydrocarbons, Linehan and Schizas were concerned that wouldnt
provide enough protection for the Slough and the ocean.
So the drainage system was engineered to divert the
first portion of runoff into a 100-yard long catch basin- the bioswale-
which performs three functions: it improves the quality of the runoff
through sedimentation, filtration, absorption, and vegetative uptake;
it detains storm water to reduce peak flows from the silt to promote
further sedimentation; and it replaces riparian habitat lost during
project development through the provision of an area with almost constant
water flow and planted with a variety of trees, shrubs, and other vegetation
that can uptake nutrients, heavy metals, and organics from the soil.
The bioswale and adjacent fields can also provide storage for six million gallons of runoff during torrential downpours. Meanwhile, the bioswale serves as an oasis of vegetation and birdlife for shoppers and park visitors alike.