Water and Land Resources Division’s Women in STEM: Part 3

This is part 3 of a four-part series about women in fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

At King County March is proclaimed Women’s History Month. Historically, careers in STEM fields have been male-dominated. In the Water and Land Resources Division, 45 percent of the nearly 400 employees are women representing the STEM fields — the expertise needed to provide clean water and healthy habitat for all of King County.

We asked a sampling of our ecologists, biologists, engineers, planners and landscape architects how they pursued a career in a historically male-dominated field and what advice they might have for other women.

About the Water and Land Resource Division’s employees

20180412-IMG_4404.jpgJessica Engel is a water quality planner in the Stormwater Services Section’s Water Quality Compliance Unit. She develops and implements a variety of programs that improve water quality and climate resiliency throughout the region.

“I have a Bachelors in Sociology and a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy,” said Jessica. “Both have given me the ability to understand what drives people to treat the environment the way they do and the framework to ensure our natural resources are protected.”

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Mary Rabourn does environmental communications and is on the same team in Stormwater Services.

“I work with regional teams on effective outreach and multicultural communications,” said Mary. “Information needs to meet people where they are, in a form they can use, at a time they need it, and when it is relevant — and exciting — to them.”

Mary began her career in geology and remote sensing and has worked on industrial and residential hazardous waste projects, pesticide safety, and stormwater. She specializes in building personal and community connections to big issues.

DSC_0077Richelle Rose is a program manager for the Snoqualmie River team in the River and Floodplain Management Section where she manages non-structural, flood risk reduction programs to improve resiliency for residents and farms.

“Much of my 25 year career has been focused at the intersection of people and natural hazards,” said Richelle. “It is important to understand the natural environment and how people interact with nature to protect both.  Growing up in Alaska inspired my love for the outdoors and the environment which lead me to pursue a career that respects that balance.”

Richelle has a Bachelor of Science in Geologic Sciences from University of Washington.

Continue reading Water and Land Resources Division’s Women in STEM: Part 3

Water and Land Resources Division’s Women in STEM: Part 2

This is part 2 of a four-part series about women in fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

At King County March is proclaimed Women’s History Month. Historically, careers in STEM fields have been male-dominated. In the Water and Land Resources Division, 45 percent of the nearly 400 employees are women representing the STEM fields — the expertise needed to provide clean water and healthy habitat for all of King County.

We asked a sampling of our ecologists, biologists, engineers, planners and landscape architects how they pursued a career in a historically male-dominated field and what advice they might have for other women.

About the Water and Land Resource Division’s employees

20180314-IMG_4344Beth leDoux is the technical coordinator for the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum and works in WLRD’s Rural and Regional Services Section.

“I pursued my interest in environmental science at a college and graduate school level,” said Beth, “and have leveraged my communication and leadership skills in my current job to support salmon recovery through improving technical knowledge and partnerships.”

20180412-IMG_4466Alison Schweitzer (née Sienkiewicz) is a stormwater pollution prevention inspector in the Water Quality Compliance Unit of WLRD’s Stormwater Services Section. She has a Bachelor of Science in environmental science and a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies from the University of Washington.

“I perform pollution prevention visits at all commercial businesses within unincorporated King County,” said Schweitzer, “providing education and technical assistance to businesses and property owners to identify and mitigate potential pollution discharges.

20180314-IMG_3688Olivia Wright is an engineer in WLRD’s River and Floodplain Management Section where she provides technical and engineering support for river and floodplain management programs and projects. Olivia is a transplant from Atlanta, GA who holds a master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of Washington.

20180412-IMG_4531Jo Opdyke Wilhelm is an environmental scientist with WLRD’s Ecological Restoration and Engineering Services Unit. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Macalester College and a master’s degree in aquatic ecology from the University of Michigan.

“I design, permit, implement, and monitor stream, river and nearshore habitat restoration projects with teams of restoration professionals in King County,” said Jo.

 

Continue reading Water and Land Resources Division’s Women in STEM: Part 2

Water and Land Resources Division’s Women in STEM: Part 1

At King County March is proclaimed Women’s History Month. Historically, careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) have been male-dominated. In the Water and Land Resources Division, 45 percent of the nearly 400 employees are women representing the STEM fields — the expertise needed to provide clean water and healthy habitat for all of King County.

We asked a sampling of our ecologists, biologists, engineers, planners and landscape architects how they pursued a career in a historically male-dominated field and what advice they might have for other women.

About Water and Land Resource Division’s employees

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Fauna Nopp is a capital project manager in the Rural and Regional Services Section of WLRD’s Ecological Restoration and Engineering Services Unit. She has a degree in landscape architecture and started working on restoration projects as a design team member 25 years ago.

“Over the years I took an interest in managing projects, obtained my project management professional certification,” said Fauna. “Now I manage and supervise some of King County’s largest capital improvement habitat projects.”

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Laura Hartema is an ecologist in the Ecological Restoration and Engineering Services Unit of WLRD’s Rural and Regional Services Section.

She is part of team of engineers and ecologists that develops, designs, permits and builds habitat restoration projects along streams, rivers, wetlands and floodplain environments, followed by monitoring the projects and reporting on outcomes and success. Laura has a bachelor of science in biology and a minor in chemistry.

“I prepared for this job through years of volunteering, internships, stints at a state fish hatchery and a hazardous waste firm, completing UW’s certificate program in wetlands, working as a fisheries observer on Alaska’s high seas, and never giving up,” said Laura.

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Sophie Chiang is a senior ecologist in the Ecological Services Unit of WLRD’s River and Floodplain Management Section.

Sophie provides ecological guidance related to levee design, levee setback, and revetment design and is responsible for the environmental permits of these facilities. Habitat components include fish habitat, mitigation, and restoration for projects associated with flood risk reduction. She has an undergraduate degree in environmental analysis and design and a master’s degree in environmental science.

“Before working for King County, I worked in the field of environmental consulting and with non-profit organizations as a wildlife biologist and gained a wide breadth of project experience along the West Coast, including the Pacific Northwest, Intermountain West, as well as throughout the United States,” said Sophie.

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Heidi Kandathil is a project manager, now with the Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Parks and Recreation Division.

“I work on special projects for the Parks and Recreation Division and am currently working on developing the proposal for the next parks levy,” said Heidi.  “My background is in engineering and urban planning but the Peace Corps is what really instigated my interest in community development and conservation.”

 

Continue reading Water and Land Resources Division’s Women in STEM: Part 1

Land Conservation Initiative: Preserving and protecting farmland and urban green space


What is the Land Conservation Initiative?

The Land Conservation Initiative is the way we can protect the livability, health, and ecological integrity of our region for everyone. Access to nature and open space is the foundation to our collective quality of life. However, development threatens working lands that produce food, jobs, and a rural way of life. The Initiative sets forth the goal of conserving and preserving 65,000 acres of remaining high conservation value lands throughout King County within the next 30 years.

This Initiative is a regional collaboration between King County, cities, business people, farmers, environmental partners, and others that began by creating a strategy to preserve our last, most important natural lands, resource lands and green spaces.

“The main goals of the Initiative are to accelerate investments in land conservation to save money, to ensure critical natural areas and resource lands can be preserved before they are lost to other uses, and to ensure green space for all residents,” said Bob Burns, Deputy Director of King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks. “Prior to the Initiative we estimated it would take 60 to 70 years to protect those 65,000 acres. The goal of the Initiative is to cut that in half.  Because land values rise faster than the growth of our revenue streams, accelerating the pace to within 30 years will save an estimated $15 billion.”

The 65,000 acres of land fall within six categories: urban green space, trails, natural lands, river corridors, farmlands, and forests.

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How is this initiative funded?

The primary funding source is the Conservation Futures Tax (CFT) fund, which is a property tax that exists on all parcels in the county.  The CFT requires a 50 percent match in most cases.

“We work to find match dollars, from other local, state or federal sources, to pair up with the CFT fund,” Bob said. “One way we invest our land conservation dollars is to buy farmland easements on our most valuable agricultural lands. Easements to remove development rights from private lands will preserve farmland and help keep farmland affordable and active, supporting local food production.”

How will it help protect agricultural land and green space in King County?

“Approximately 15,000 acres of the 65,000 acres goal is agricultural land,” Bob said. The Farmland Preservation Program (FPP) is an important component of this Initiative by preserving rapidly diminishing farmland through development rights purchases.

In addition to the 15,000 acres of agricultural land identified in rural areas, the Initiative also plans to protect 2,500 to 3,000 acres of urban green spaces, some of which could be used for community gardens.

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Community gardens and open spaces make us healthier and our neighborhoods more livable

“An exciting component of this Initiative is urban green space preservation,” Bob said. “A key goal of the LCI is to ensure there is green space for every resident in King County. We want to make sure every neighborhood has green space. These green spaces will be preserved in ways that focus on resident interests and needs. The communities will drive how these green spaces will be used, whether that is through a community garden, open space, or other passive use.

“Green spaces provide a multitude of benefits for residents, and not all of our communities currently experience these benefits,” he said. “Every resident should have the opportunity to live their best lives, and providing access to open spaces for every neighborhood will help eliminate disparities in the quality of life for residents.”

In addition to addressing open space inequities, preserving farmland and green spaces will support locally grown food, which helps strengthen the local food economy and increase community resilience in the face of climate change.

“Investing in the preservation of farmland and green spaces will strengthen our local economy and promote a more robust local food system, which will benefit us all,” Bob said.

Learn more about the Land Conservation Initiative here.

The salmon in me

By Wadii Boughdir

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetSalmon was a novelty for me.

Growing up in North Africa, I hadn’t had any connection with this delicate fish, although growing up by the Mediterranean Sea, I had a special bond with water, fish and the ecosystem.

There, I witnessed the slow decline in the quality of native fish habitat, and simultaneously the price surge in fish at the market due to a downturn in fisheries.

Moving to the Pacific Northwest, I didn’t know what I was stepping into. I didn’t realize the importance of salmon to this whole region, their cultural significance, and their role in the ecosystem’s balance.

Salmon are not like any other fish I know. Their journey starts in freshwater where they grow up preparing themselves to move gradually downstream to the ocean. After spending between one to six years in the ocean, adult salmon cease to care about food when the time comes to return home to spawn.

salmon-in-meTheir sole mission is to find their way back in spite of human-made obstacles, predators, habitat degradation, and increasing river temperatures. Each year, adult salmon swim upstream against the currents for miles, migrating back to their birth streams to spawn and die, creating life and sacrificing themselves to nourish the ecosystem. It ends where it starts, and it begins where it ends, a beautiful tale of persistence and dedication.

Their miraculous journey is a wonder that depicts the salmon’s uniqueness and significance. As an immigrant, I stop and ponder their story and can’t help but draw connections between humans and salmon. We are different, yet we are similar in our behaviors.

We humans seek different experiences and environments, and we reminisce about returning home. Yet, we can’t always move freely. Salmon too as humans encounter different obstacles in their migration cycle; our walls are their culverts and dams. Pollution and global warming are impacting their habitat, and intensive urbanization is shrinking the areas where it is suitable to live. Climate refugee status isn’t exclusive to humans. It’s expected that salmon and other species will seek refuge north to escape warmer waters. (See articles linked below.)

If we as a society care about the orca whales that eat salmon, forest health, tribal rights, or simply think salmon is delicious, then we must do our part for salmon recovery. We must make our watershed a place where people and salmon coexist. Simple measures like replacing invasive plants with native ones, allowing fallen trees to remain on the ground and in the stream, using natural landscaping practices, and fixing car leaks are paramount to maintaining a healthy habitat. The Pacific Northwest is facing a tough ecosystem challenge that might doom its fauna and flora. As humans we have created these challenges, but we also have the intelligence and power to make our environment healthier.

My love for this place that I now call home and my esteem for the salmon’s struggle drive me to participate in this effort to restore salmon habitat and preserve the beauty of this place.

2018 RC Brow Beater by Jacob Reid Wuertz-7726

About the author

Wadii Boughdir, who was born and raised in Tunisia, is a Communications Intern for the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum’s salmon recovery team. Wadii spent the last year working with the International Rescue Committee in Seattle focusing on improving refugee youth programs and developing outreach and communication initiatives. Prior to his experience in the U.S., Wadii worked on several social and non-profit initiatives in Tunisia and helped create the first debating network there, with the program expanding to Libya. He co-founded an educational non-profit to carry on the civic engagement work and has also worked to promote ecotourism. Currently, Wadii is pursuing a master’s degree in Communication in Communities and Networks at the University of Washington.

Resources

Saving SoundGuardian

by Rachael Hartman and Saffa Bardaro
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View of the lumberyard fire behind the King County Environmental Lab from across the Fremont Cut.

On the night of Saturday, Nov. 10, a four-alarm fire started at a lumberyard right across from the King County Environmental Lab.

The fire was the largest Seattle has seen since 2010 with flames shooting over 100 feet into the air, according to the Seattle Fire Department blog. In the end, the fire that burned two buildings to the ground and damaged three others was determined to be arson.

That night, in addition to the 142 firefighters that helped fight the fire, King County employees were coordinating their own response to protect the Lab and the SoundGuardian research vessel. The 4-alarm fire was less than 200 feet away from the Lab which worried employees that both the Lab and SoundGuardian were at risk.

“I got a call from Ben Budka, the Lab’s Field Science Unit Supervisor and Trouble Call Coordinator, at about 9 p.m. Saturday night” said Diane McElhaney, Environmental Lab Manager. “He said, ‘It doesn’t look good. Bob [Kruger, SoundGuardian captain] and I are going to try to save SoundGuardian.’

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The lumberyard where the fire occurred is across the street from the Lab.

Diane began wondering where they could take SoundGuardian if it had to be moved. And though the Lab is concrete, she knew water damage to the equipment could be catastrophic. When Diane met up with Ben, Bob, and, by then, Terry Siebens, Conventionals chemist, at the Lab just before 10 p.m. she could not believe what she saw.

“There were 15 fire trucks, as well as fire boats in the canal. The Lab was filled with smoke,” said Diane. “You could see the spray of water from the fire boats going over the road in huge arcs.”

The aftermath of the fire: Not only were buildings and cars destroyed but tarps of boats just five slips down from SoundGuardian – in the Canal Marina – melted. The Lab is the grey building is in the background on the left

After hearing from fire officials on the scene that they had contained the fire, Lab employees decided that SoundGuardian did not need to be moved. Power infrastructure, however, had been damaged so power was off for several blocks and would remain off for several days. So the next concern was preventing a power surge at the Lab when electricity eventually came back.

“We went around the Lab and unplugged everything we could find,” said Diane. Previous outages had taught Lab employees that equipment needed to be brought back up in stages. After Ali Wandy (Building Engineer) joined Diane around midnight to make sure the bigger systems were shut down, they called it a night knowing there was much more work to be done in the coming days.

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The aftermath of the fire – not only were buildings and cars destroyed but tarps of boats just five slips down from SoundGuardian had melted. The Lab is the grey building in the background on the left.

While the Lab is housed under the Water and Land Resources Division, Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) employees cover safety for the Lab as well as construction management. In the face of a power outage, the two divisions had to consider how they were going to keep Lab samples cold for several days. WTD construction managers started looking at the possibility of getting a generator out to the Lab. A refrigeration truck was also considered, as was dry ice.

“We wouldn’t have lost all the samples, but they could have been compromised after 24-48 hours of reduced temperatures,” said Diane. “We have microbiology samples that need to be held at minus 80 degrees in some cases.” Fortunately, county and city leadership made it a priority to get power restored by Tuesday, Nov. 13 at about 4 p.m.

While there was no visible damage to the Lab, it “smelled like a campfire,” said Mark Palmer, WTD construction manager. By chance, Monday, Nov. 12 was Veterans Day, and a King County holiday, providing an extra day for the Lab to air out.

The fire also threatened the progress of a 16-month project to replace the Lab’s fume hood and air handling equipment with more energy-efficient systems.

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One of the first shipment of fume hoods being replaced in the Lab.

“Diane called on us to help with the smoke that had been sucked into the Lab,” explains Allen Alston, safety officer. As a precaution, Allen and Bud McJimsey, WTD construction manager, worked with an air-sampling contractor to test the air quality in the Lab for both smoke and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – gases released from burning materials that could be hazardous to people’s health.

“We wanted to ensure people weren’t exposed to poor air quality conditions,” said Allen. Everything came back good – which confirmed it was safe for the Lab staff and construction crews to return.”

“This incident was a good reminder about keeping emergency procedures and notification lists up to date,” said Diane. “I want to thank Ben Budka, Bob Kruger, Terry Siebens, Ali Wandy, Allen Alston, Mark Palmer, William Sroufe, Ken Bergstrom, Jim Faccone, and Josh Baldi for the immediate support they provided. We’ve had so many challenges these past two years and we could not have made it without this ‘A team.’”

Continue reading Saving SoundGuardian

Executive meets with employees working in science at latest Listening Session

King County has hundreds of employees working in the sciences on some of our region’s biggest challenges, from protecting fish habitat to helping people manage and overcome diseases, to keeping waterways clean, and King County Executive Dow Constantine recently met with six of them to learn more about their work and experiences.

At his August 6 Employee Listening Session, Executive Constantine had a wide-ranging conversation with Lara Whitely Binder, Climate Preparedness Specialist from the Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP); Ecotoxicologist Carly Greyell and Water Quality Planner Josh Kubo from Water and Land Resources Division; Environmental Scientist Nina Wester and Process Control Supervisor Rick Butler from Wastewater Treatment Division; and Meaghan Munn, an Epidemiologist with Public Health – Seattle & King County.

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“I’ve been hosting these listening sessions for a while now with different groups of employees from different areas and fields with different perspectives, and they’re always really interesting and informative,” Executive Constantine said. “This one is especially timely for me right now when we look at some of the challenges facing our environment locally, whether it’s the health of orcas or salmon, the impacts of pollution on our waterways, or the greater intensity and frequency of weather events.”

Munn, who works on King County’s Hepatitis C Test and Cure Program funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), talked about her work to help people infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV).

“The new HCV drugs are 95 percent effective and can actually cure Hepatitis C, which is a pretty major breakthrough,” Munn said. “Our project is to get people connected to care and get them treated.”

Greyell, who works in the Toxicology and Contamination Assessment Group, spoke about some of the challenges in tackling polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, that enter local waterways.

“I focus a lot on PCBs because that’s the contaminant that is big in the Duwamish and it’s really important for the orcas as well, as they’re endocrine disrupters,” she said. “We do a lot of monitoring to see which tributaries we might be getting the most PCBs from, and it’s definitely coming from the stormwater, it’s runoff from the land in certain areas. We do have a lot of information about that but it’s not in our jurisdiction; obviously they’re the places that are most developed and we do our work in unincorporated King County.”

Kubo, a Fish Biologist, talked about some of the difficulties facing Puget Sound’s salmon population.

“We’re producing a lot of fish out of the Puget Sound, a lot of hatchery fish and some decent wild fish,” he said. “However their survival from when they leave the Sound to when they come back is very, very low.”

He said that food web issues, contaminants, and a well-supported theory that the Upper Pacific is reaching carrying capacity for salmon are just some of the reasons for this struggle.

“Across all systems, from south Sound to north Sound, we’re having issues with making sure that the juveniles come back as adults, and hatchery fish are surviving quite a bit less than wild fish. So even if we were to produce a ton of hatchery fish, we might not get a lot of adults back.”

The group also talked about the current national environment around science, data and facts.

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“Do you have any thoughts, stepping away from your day-to-day work, about the role of science in government and policy making, and the odd situation we find ourselves in having to defend the scientific method against political orthodoxy?” Executive Constantine asked the group.

“I feel lucky to be in a government context that supports science and the integration of science into natural resource management or any kind of resource management,” Kubo said. “At this level I feel that science is not only valued but there’s a continued push to produce good science because it will get utilized and it will get integrated. There’s almost a sigh of relief that you still get to do science.”


Learn more

Stormwater mapping: A glimpse into the world of tracking where the rain goes

By Alison Sienkiewicz

Aeronautical engineers, consultants, graphic designers, and Geographic Information System (GIS) professionals formed an unlikely, but unstoppable, team at King County’s Water and Land Resources Division last year. The project team’s short-term goal was to map the stormwater drainage system within parts of unincorporated King County, an assignment that allowed them to test their field skills and environmental passion. To help accomplish this, a team was brought together as part of an ongoing effort to map stormwater drainage system that had not been inventoried, as required by King County’s Phase 1 Municipal Stormwater Permit. Team members were hired for their knowledge of stormwater management and GIS, as well as a love of the environment. Their diverse backgrounds helped them each bring different skills to this project.

“This was a great opportunity to get a foot in the door at King County,” said Anna Lucero, one of the first mappers hired onto the team.

A team of about a dozen people was hired to locate, map, and inspect stormwater structures along nearly 800 of the 1,400 miles of roadways in unincorporated King County. The team started their days dispersing across the county to map and inspect nearly 65,000 stormwater structures and mechanisms, including pipes, ditches, catch basins, manholes, and other drainage features. The team would verify that these structures were not full of debris, cracked, or otherwise deficient, allowing water to continue to move smoothly throughout the stormwater system and help reduce flooding. To give a sense of magnitude of the stormwater infrastructure within King County, King County Roads Division estimates there are more than 5,000,000 linear feet of ditches, more than 25,000 catch basins, and more than 2,000,000 linear feet of pipe.

“The data needed a lot of work,” said Joe Espinosa, the project lead. “(It) hadn’t been updated in more than 15 years.”

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Mapper Chris Meder enters data into a tablet during a ditch and culvert inspection.

A day in the life of the temporary mappers would start with the team strategizing their game plan for the day and making computer updates to the mapping work from the previous days. They would review the updated maps, determine what areas still needed to be mapped or reviewed, and would venture out with a teammate in a truck, traveling to their designated area to spend the day.  “Having a partner in the field built great comradery among the team,” said Chris Meder.

Within their designated area, the mapping team would inspect each catch basin, measuring its dimensions, and assess if there were any large cracks or deficiencies in the structure. Using mirrors on sticks, they inspected the pipes coming in and out of each catch basin.

“I put a mirror down into a pipe one day and saw a skunk tail pointing at me,” said Jeff Tarshis. “Needless to say I wrapped up that inspection pretty quickly.”

Culverts were also a common stormwater conveyance structure that the team inspected. A culvert is a pipe or concrete box structure that drains to an open channel, swale, or ditch under a roadway or embankment. It is important that these culverts are not clogged with debris and do not have any breaks in the pipe or structure so water can move smoothly and quickly through the structure, therefore reducing flooding.

“One of my best field memories was when I inspected a culvert and saw two kittens in there,” said Emily Davis. “The kittens did not appear hurt but were quite playful and keen on diverting our attention.”

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Mapper Emily Davis encounters a kitten while inspecting a concrete pipe in unincorporated King County.

The team explored the widespread geographical areas of King County, the 13th largest county in the United States, which included summer field work on Vashon Island, winter trips to Enumclaw in the snow, and foggy fall trips to Duvall. Over the course of the short-term project the crew of 16 assessed nearly 27,000 stormwater structures and, of those, more than 5,000 structures were flagged for further investigation.

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An example of a catch basin that is plugged with sediment and needs cleaning.

One surprise on the job was how interesting stormwater is within our environment.

“I came into the job wanting to expand my GIS skills,” says Chris Meder. “I came out stoked about stormwater management.” This short-term project provided the team with a boots-on-the-ground understanding of how rainwater flows through our communities and how extensive the stormwater infrastructure is in King County. The field work provided the mappers with real-world experience in understanding how stormwater pollutes our local waterways — an invaluable lesson since stormwater is the predominant source of pollution threatening the health of Puget Sound.

Getting out of the office and having this field component was a draw for many on the team.

“I love field work,” said Emily Davis. “It was satisfying to go out and get a lot of work done, regardless of weather.” Physically, the project gave the team experience in dealing with challenges of weather because they were out in the field mapping each week, rain or shine.

“I learned to always wear rain pants when it is raining,” said Taylor Rulien, “because just wearing a rain jacket doesn’t always keep you dry in our rainy season.”

This job also helped the team field test their knowledge of water systems in the real world, which requires an engaging mind to appreciate and understand.

“My educational background in engineering and my inquisitive mind for water systems helped me in this job,” said Melissa Dahl.

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Mapper Andrea Wong inspecting a catch basin alongside a road.

In addition to field and GIS skills, the project also provided numerous non-technical skills, including how to work together in a team setting, transferring outdoor data collection into online data tools, and building community relation skills.

“The public was so supportive of this project,” said Anna Lucero. “Everyone was very understanding and interested to learn that the rain does not go into the same pipes as their sewage. Everyone cared.”

This stormwater mapping project helps King County save time and money by minimizing emergency responses and road or property damage. Mapping and inventorying these structures provides data to make better decisions on stormwater infrastructure investments for a county of more than two million residents. And, with more knowledge about where the stormwater runoff goes and how it gets there, we can continue to clean up our lakes, rivers, and streams by looking upstream at potential sources of pollution.

Many of the team members were uncertain about applying for the project’s positions because of the short-term nature, but they were all glad they did it.

“I knew it was risky going from a full time consulting job to this, but it was exciting to jump into the unknown,” said Emily Davis. “This short term position pushed us to learn more and not be sedentary in a career.”

“This is the first job I have ever been sad to leave,” said Kasim Salahuddin.

“This job has helped shape my future,” said Melissa Dahl. “King County gave all of us a great opportunity and we are so appreciative.”

Keep an eye out for future internships, short term jobs or sign up for alerts at Careers at King County.

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The stormwater mapping team (*permanent data support staff). Back row, from left: Nick Hetrick*, Matthew Goad*, Kasim Salahuddin, Emily Davis, Melissa Dahl, Mark Preszler*. Middle row, from left: Jeff Tarshis, Kyle Korbines, Taylor Rulien, Edward McFarlin*, Lusha Zhou*. Front row, from left: Chris Meder, Ana Lucero, Andrea Wong, Jeannie Pride*, Joe Espinsoa*.