For the residents and tourists of Homer, Alaska, the Kachemak Bay is the area’s recreational hub. The bay boasts some of the richest marine invertebrate environments in Alaska’s Cook Inlet. A feeding ground and habitat for sea ducks, shorebirds, small mammals and fish, the bay is popular with commercial and recreational fishermen.
Over the years, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, along with the City of Homer and the Alaska Department of Transportation, saw a growing potential for contamination in the bay. They knew preventive steps had to be taken to protect the bay and its plentiful marine life from the polluted, oily stormwater running off nearby roads.
As part of State-funded improvements to Pioneer, Bartlett and Hohe Streets, the DEC, DOT and the City explored solutions for removing road oil and other pollutants from stormwater runoff. The Sterling Highway, which runs through the town, and a hospital parking lot were also contributing sources of pollution.
This road improvement project offered a chance to protect the bay by treating runoff to state standards before discharge. The StormFilter system, which is based on passive, siphon actuated, media-filled filter cartridges, traps and adsorbs particulates and pollutants before discharge. One of the first in the state, the nine- by 18- foot, reinforced concrete vault was built locally and designed to withstand potential Pacific Rim earthquakes. Contractor Zubeck, Inc., placed the vault in Bartlett Street. The underground StormFilter was relatively easy to install. The only challenge during construction was crane management near existing power lines.
Today, treated runoff flows down Bartlett and Hohe streets into a conveyance system that leads to the StormFilter. Significant oil, solids and pollutants are trapped by the StormFilter before the clean runoff is piped under the highway into the wetlands and passes into Kachemak Bay.