Baker Bay stormwater project

The Estuary Partnership is working alongside the City of Ilwaco and the Port of Ilwaco to enhance the water quality of Baker Bay. The project will add stormwater treatment facilities along Howerton Avenue and its adjacent parking lots.
water flows from a pipe directly into the bay

Currently, more than 40 storm drains convey stormwater from these areas directly, untreated, into Baker Bay. Stormwater runoff can be toxic to fish and wildlife, particularly from roads and parking areas. As rainwater flows across the pavement, into storm drains, and directly into Baker Bay, it picks up a lot of the residue of life – oils and grease that drip off cars and trucks, metals in brake pad dust, trash, sediment, and a host of other pollutants.  

Ilwaco is a fishing and crabbing community and Baker Bay is at the heart of it. Capturing and treating toxic stormwater runoff before it enters Baker Bay is a simple, yet effective way to deliver cleaner water to fish and wildlife. Stormwater improvement projects are proven, cost effective, low maintenance, attractive, and pedestrian-friendly.  

boats moored at the Port of Ilwaco

Working with  engineering firm KPFF and landscape architecture firm Learning Landscapes Design, the Estuary Partnership has created an initial plan designed to capture and treat as much polluted stormwater runoff as possible before it enters Baker Bay.  

This $2.18 million project is completely funded by a grant from the Washington Department of Ecology and the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership.  The project will not cost anything to the City, the Port, the businesses, or the residents of Ilwaco.


Design Concepts

(subject to change)

These initial concepts will be developed further with community input and additional engineering analysis. All elements are subject to change with further study.

Ilwaco boat yard before and after


The project includes several strategies:
  • Filtration Facilities

    bioswale by a parking lotDetention basins that clean stormwater runoff using a specified soil blend and plants to filter and break down pollutants before connecting to the existing storm system via an underground perforated pipe.









    filtration facility planted with grasses on a streetside   parking lot filtration facility on a rainy day   parking lot filtration facility with a connecting storm drain in the foreground

  • BioPods

    a cross section of a biopod shows how plantings over mulch connect to the storm systemBioPods are infrastructure devices that collect stormwater and filter it through mulch before connecting to the existing storm system. Mulch is easy and affordable to replace compared to proprietary stormwater filter cartridges. 


    an installed biopod appears much like a normal storm drain


  • Depaving and adding greenspace

    streetside greenspace already installed in Ilwaco Removal of existing pavement in non-parking areas and replacement with trees and greenspace planters like the existing landscaping on the south side of Howerton Avenue. Greenspace helps manage stormwater by increasing infiltration and drawing up excess water.

    landscape planting in a parking lot

    parking lot landscaping with shrubs and trees   

  • Permeable Pavers

    permeable pavers run through the middle of a parking lotReplacement of areas of asphalt with permeable pavers to allow stormwater to infiltrate rather than run off of the pavement.  Stormwater passes through a sand filtration layer before connecting to the existing storm system via an underground perforated pipe.

The project will also enhance pedestrian connections between the Port’s parking areas, businesses on Howerton Avenue, and the Discovery Trail. The result will be a visually appealing streetscape that is appealing to locals and welcoming to area visitors.  



Project Timeline

timeline: funding secured 2020; draft designs developed 2020-2021; Community input on draft designs – 2022-23;   Design finalized – 2023;   Construction 2023-24



What people are saying

  • Mike Cassinelli, Mayor of Ilwaco

    Currently stormwater runoff from 5-6 acres of City and Port impervious surface discharges directly to Baker Bay. We believe this is an incredible opportunity to address polluted stormwater runoff to improve environmental conditions for our citizens, to enhance the pedestrian connection between the Port and the Discovery Trail, and to showcase our commitment to the health of Baker Bay and the lower Columbia River. We are extremely excited to partner with the Estuary Partnership, the Port of Ilwaco, and others and we look forward to being an active participant in this project. 

  • Ilwaco Merchants Association

    The health and water quality of the Columbia River and Baker Bay are integral to the health of our businesses and community. 

    The project will not only capture and treat polluted stormwater before it enters Baker Bay, it will also educate residents and tourists about the importance of stormwater management, and improve the aesthetics of our community by integrating more trees and greenery into the project area. In addition, the project will enhance connections between the Discovery Trail and Port of Ilwaco area businesses. 

    This project is a rare opportunity for the City of Ilwaco to design and build stormwater features that will benefit our entire community on many different levels for decades to come. We fully support their project and look forward to providing input into the project's design as it moves forward.



Project Partners

City of Ilwaco logo       Estuary Partnership logo       Port of Ilwaco logo

Project Contractors

KPFF logo       Learning Landscapes logo

Project Funder

Washington Department of Ecology logo