Toyota VDC raises the bar for corporate water conservation
As an environmentally conscious company Toyota is an innovator in the world market. Toyota is constantly looking for new ways to increase their water conservation efforts. In 2004, Toyota completely redesigned the site surrounding their Portland Vehicle Distribution Center with the specific goal of conserving water. Their vast efforts also contribute to the health and well-being of the nearby Willamette River and its inhabitants.
Conservation on site
Rain water collected and stored on-site in an underground tank flushes dual-function toilets inside the plant. Vehicles are washed on-site as well, in a special wash bay that takes water from the underground tank. Only vehicles with accessories are washed, which saves water as well.
Conservation on the four-acre bioswale
A succession of shallow ditches hold water run-off and slow its progression over the land with native grasses. Small bits of trash, biomass, and pollutants have a chance to settle into the bioswale ditches, which keeps the water flowing into the nearby river cleaner.
The bioswale also attracts and feeds wildlife. These native species help control pests and contribute the the health of the Willamette River, as well.
“The bioswale serves as a protected wildlife habitat. We’ve seen eagles, geese, ducks, rabbits, coyotes and other critters.” -Doug Warneke, VDC Production Supervisor
Protecting the watershed
Toyota has installed filters that absorb oil in the VDC parking lots, which keeps dangerous pollutants out of the water supply near the plant. They don’t use pesticides around the plant or in the bioswale, but rather integrate native drought-resistant plants for their landscaping that are naturally resistant to pest invasion.
Their partnership with the Willamette Riverkeeper lets employees be involved with caring for the area directly during the annual river cleanup event. Storm water is tested quarterly for contaminants on a voluntary basis. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality does not require Toyota’s participation due to the huge effort they make to protect the watershed.