One-Star Certified Pilot Project

Location: Olympia, Washington
Project Size: 1.6 acres
Project Type: Open space - Park
Site Context: Urban
Former Land Use: Brownfield
Terrestrial Biome: Temperate Conifer Forests
Budget: $3,375,000
photo by: Eric J. Williams

Project Overview

The LOTT Clean Water Alliance has been actively producing, distributing, and using class A reclaimed water since 2005. LOTT’s reclaimed water public education program has been enhanced significantly over the past three years with a series of water features in the downtown Olympia, Washington area. The East Bay Public Plaza is a truly unique new public space and represents a small slice of the Puget Sound region in the heart of Olympia. With its educational elements and sustainable features, it serves as the soul of the East Bay District, which has been experiencing significant redevelopment from a polluted industrial brownfield into a vibrant re-energized attraction area. LOTT built this plaza next door to its central Budd Inlet Treatment Plant/WET Science Center specifically for educational purposes – primarily to showcase reclaimed water in a positive and uniquely participatory way. The plaza features a water theme, celebrated through a flowing reclaimed water stream, a reclaimed water wetland pond, artwork, and interpretive elements.

Regional Context

Olympia has a Marine West Coast climate, with average annual temperature of 59 degrees, and has annual precipitation rate of 50 inches. The city sits on a low flat at the southern end of Puget Sound on the shores of Budd Inlet's two bays, between Seattle and the Olympic Mountains to the north, Mt. Rainier to the northeast, and Mt. Saint Helens to the south. The city's total area is 19.68 square miles (1.86 square miles is water), and borders the towns of Lacey (east) and Tumwater (south).

The project site is located in downtown Olympia and was once the home of a log yard, a warehouse, and many heavy industrial uses. LOTT Clean Water Alliance's Budd Inlet Treatment Plant/Wet Science Center is located to the West, the Olympia Hands on Children's Museum is located to the north, Budd Inlet is to the East, and the undeveloped Port of Olympia lots are located to the south. It receives full sun exposure on the south and east sides. Previously, it had been classified as a brownfield by the Washington State Department of Ecology.

SITES Features + Practices

Notable sustainable features:

  • Brownfield remediation 
  • Infill project with public access 
  • 100 percent reclaimed water used for irrigation, toilet flushing, and water features 
  • Integrated design team included representatives from LOTT reclaimed water treatment facility, the City of Olympia, Hands On Children's Museum, and the Port of Olympia 
  • Green roof, screening, and high solar reflectance products 
  • All site lighting is LED and compliant with the Dark Skies Society's guidelines 
  • On-site recycling and composting facility

Strategies used to earn SITES credits:

  • Educating the entire integrated design team about the Sustainable Sites Initiative's Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks prior to the start of work 
  • Participation in the pre-design site assessment by all integrated design team members 
  • Reviewing the site assessment in all phases of the design work to ensure the focus of the project's sustainability goals 
  • Inclusion of the Sustainable Site Initiative references in contract documents, including specification sections 
  • Educating the entire construction team of the Sustainable Sites Initiative's Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks prior to start of work to ensure proper material selection and document compliance

Innovative strategies: 100 percent of the water used for irrigating the site is reclaimed water.

The site's centerpiece, Confluence Creek, is the first interactive recreational water feature in Washington state to be permitted using reclaimed water. The demonstration stream is fed by Class A reclaimed water with a pool to riffle ratio, feeder cutbanks, boulders, cobbles, pebbles and sand composition found in local streams. Stream water is treated to swimming pool standards through a closed, recirculating system. Designed cutbank seeps and artesian springs contribute to the flow of Confluence Creek mimicking the way groundwater partially feeds local streams.

The demonstration wetland, a created wetland in an urban setting, is fed with reclaimed water from the nearby Budd Inlet Treatment Plant, and serves as a staging area for the outdoor leg of the Wet Science Center classroom sessions. The demonstration wetland is also designed to illustrate the beneficial use of reclaimed water in enhancing wetlands and providing habitat.

Materials and products that helped achieve project goals:

  • Paving materials with a high reflectance index 
  • Vegetated trellis attachments 
  • A green roof, solar tubes, and skylights for the restroom building 
  • Recycled materials used for all site furnishings 
  • Salvaged boulders used for landscape features 
  • Locally grown plants 
  • LED lighting throughout


As the prime consultant for the East Bay Public Project, Robert W. Droll, Landscape Architect, PS (RWD) was tasked with managing 10 sub-consultants and 4 artists. The integrated design team process allowed for pro-active management of the complex project. All team members, including the client's representatives, RWD and sub-consultants, contractors and sub-contractors, the public, and maintenance staff were involved in the process.

From the onset of the project, the team took advantage of the mapping and assessment of existing conditions form provided by Sustainable Site Initiative's guidelines to help capture opportunities for sustainability. After the selection of the general contractor, a pre-construction meeting was held to provide guidance for the contractor and sub-contractors in order to meet the goals and objectives of the Sustainable Sites Initiative program. During every weekly meeting, SITES credits and documentation requirements were discussed.

As early as the design development phase, the integrative design team engaged the client's maintenance staff in the development of the site maintenance plan to ensure long term strategies for meeting sustainability goals.

Since the site was deemed a Brownfield, LOTT Clean Water Alliance conducted an Environmental Site Assessment and submitted a Voluntary Cleanup Program application, which was approved by the Department of Ecology. Project bid documents included a list of regulations that the contractor would have to abide by, including, but not limited to:
- Hazardous waste transport and management
- Dangerous waste regulations
- Minimum standards for solid waste handling
- Remediation of petroleum contaminated soils

LOTT Clean Water Alliance' s desire to have the first interactive recreational water feature in Washington to be permitted using reclaimed water required approval from the State of Washington Department of Health. An approval for construction permit was issued with conditions under the requirements of Washington Administrative Code 246-260-030 and RCW 70.90.160 for Water Recreation Facilities.

The City of Olympia Urban Forestry Manual was utilized in developing the planting plan to minimize adverse impacts of land disturbing activities and ensure the project met Olympia's tree density requirements.

Maintenance + Stewardship

Once the home of a log yard, a warehouse, and many heavy industrial uses, this two parcel, 1.6 acre former brownfield, and now certified SITES project has proven to be a destination and a catalyst for other adjacent developments. In addition to LOTT's Wet Science Center, East Bay Public Plaza serves as a classroom for groups of all ages and a showroom for sustainable development. It has been awarded the WateReuse Public Education Program of the Year for its interactive approach to public acceptance of reclaimed water.

LOTT Clean Water Alliance is dedicated to sustainability. The Site Maintenance Plan, required to achieve SITES certification, provides guidelines for the staff to prevent invasive species growth, and ensures plant health, soil health, reduction of stormwater runoff, continued reduction of heat island effect, and low energy use for restrooms.

In addition, the site will be maintained using long-term integrated pest management (IPM) practices to control invasive plant species, composting excess organic plant material on-site, continued use of reclaimed water instead of potable water, replacement of site furnishings when needed with those that also use recycled materials, and using low emission techniques during maintenance activities.

Site Challenges

The two biggest challenges were that the site had been classified as a brownfield by the Washington State Department of Ecology, and acquiring permits for the first interactive recreational water feature in Washington that utilizes Class A reclaimed water.

An environmental assessment concluded that the past industrial uses (log yard, a warehouse, and many heaving industrial uses) left the existing site soils with many chemicals of concern including arsenic, lead, TPH-D, and ethylbenzene among others. The site needed to undergo extensive decontamination, soil remediation, and capping efforts before it was safe to utilize in a recreational capacity.

Project Goals + Successes

LOTT Clean Water Alliance, along with it's partners, wanted to transform the heavily polluted brownfield site into a destination for visitor's of all ages and a become catalyst for other adjacent developments. The primary goal of the project was to educate the public and showcase reclaimed water in a positive and uniquely participatory way. The plaza needed to serve as a staging area to the outdoor leg of the Wet Science Center classroom education sessions.

Along with LOTT Clean Water Alliance's desire to educate the public on the different available uses of reclaimed water, sustainability also heavily influenced their decisions in the development of other facilities. A primary example is the WET Science Center, adjacent to East Bay Public Plaza site, which achieved LEED Platinum certification. Constructed prior the plaza's design, the WET Science Center has interactive exhibits, center events, virtual tours and educational programs to show how LOTT achieved the LEED certification.

LOTT Cleanwater Alliance and the design team were excited for the opportunity to participate in the Sustainable Site Initiative's Pilot Program. The potential for SITES certification provided the performance benchmarks necessary to verify sustainable land practices in transforming a brownfield into plaza that offers something for everyone.

One of the most important successes of the project is its educational programming. From intimate contact with Confluence Creek, to crossing Discovery Bridge, to enjoying a performance at Headwaters Stage, East Bay Public Plaza offers a wide range of interactive experiences for all ages during all seasons. The Plaza also offers a variety of spaces from the modest gathering area in the southwest corner to boulder coves, and seating areas with custom made single seats to Discovery Bridge with views up and down Confluence Creek. Naturalistic and native overstory trees define plaza spaces while shrubs and groundcover create interest and promote natural surveillance. The demonstration wetland is designed to illustrate the beneficial use of reclaimed water to enhance wetlands and provide habitat. This healthy micro-habitat supports native insects and wildlife, and visitors can venture across stepping stones to listen for frogs or watch for dragonflies.

Lessons Learned

The challenge of collecting documentation throughout the design and construction process, combined with unfamiliarity of the guidelines at the beginning of the project required a considerable amount of time and effort.

From the onset of any new project, the landscape architect now asks if the project is a good candidate for the Sustainable Sites Initiative program, and if so educates the client and sub-consultant on the benefits, as well as pitfalls of pursuing SITES certification. When pursuing SITES certification is desired, the client and sub-consultants are encouraged to use the Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks when making decisions during project development.

Project Team

LOTT Clean Water Alliance - Client
Eric Hielema, PE, Senior Wastewater Engineer
Karla Fowler, Community Relations and Environmental Policy Director
Lisa Dennis-Perez, Public Communications Manager
Clint McDaniels, Engineering Technician and Construction Manager

Robert W. Droll, Landscape Architect, PS 
Robert W. Droll, Landscape Architect and President
Eric J. Williams, Landscape Architect and Project Manager
Kelly Carson, LEED AP BD+C, Landscape Designer

Certification Level:

Project Size:

Site Context:

Former Land Use: