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JBLM Master Planning

Bioswales enhance ground water infiltration

Directorate of Public Works

Published: 01:49PM February 8th, 2018

There’s been ongoing construction around the Joint Base Lewis-McChord garrison headquarters building, on Lewis Main, over the past few months, and it is helping to meet the JBLM Master Planning vision goals.

“The old parking lot (for Building 1010) used to flood in the winter,” said Matthew Weeks, JBLM Directorate of Public Works engineer. “This updated parking lot, with the high curbs, will have bioswale mix and grass growing to filter storm water before it goes back into the water table and recharges the ground water without flooding the parking.”

A bioswale is a vegetated drain way to convey stormwater runoff. These systems capture small volumes of water in the grassy area allowing more time for infiltration.

Bioswales are often used with or instead of traditional stormwater piping. They achieve the same goals as rain gardens but are designed to manage a specified amount of runoff from a large impervious area such as a parking lot or roadway.

And like a rain garden, it is vegetated with plants that can withstand both heavy watering and drought.

“Under (a permit), JBLM is required to protect water quality and reduce discharge of pollutants to the maximum extent practicable,” said Becky Kowalski, JBLM stormwater program manager. “In addition, for all new development and redevelopment projects that disturb 5,000 square feet or more of land area, we must also utilize onsite stormwater management practices to infiltrate, disperse, retain or harvest and reuse stormwater runoff. Designing, constructing, and installing stormwater low impact development best management practices (like Bioswales, rain gardens, and pervious pavement) help JBLM meet this permit requirement.”

The JBLM Master Plan creates a single vision that supports multiservice mission needs, plus the needs of JBLM’s service members, their families, the civilian workforce and military retirees. The Master Plan creates sustainable neighborhoods for a livable JBLM community that enhances the Puget Sound Region.

For more information on the JBLM Master Plan, visit

Keeping the parking lots green and stormwater clean is another way JBLM manages resources to support the present installation mission without compromising its ability to accomplish the mission in the future.

To keep up with the latest environmental news, visit SustainableJBLM/Facebook.