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Stormwater Research - Process and Requirements

Graphic iamge of Flowchart developing research ideas

Flowchart Process - use this link for a larger version

Developing and Submitting
Research Ideas


View the flowchart.  Depicts the process that a research idea goes through from conception to a fully developed and prioritized proposal. This is a collaborative effort between the proponent generating the idea and WSDOT's technical support staff, who will assist in shepherding the concept through the process. The amount of technical staff support needed in this iterative process will depend on the level and area of expertise of the individual(s) submitting the idea. 


Submittal form and instructions. Proponents may wish to consult with ESO's Water Quality Program staff for advice and assistance while preparing their proposal. To avoid expending energy in pursuing research ideas that have been adequately investigated, a literature search should be conducted very early in the process.

Upon submittal, ESO's Water Quality Program staff checks the proposal to ensure it contains all the required information prior to sending it to the Stormwater Technical Research Committee (STRC). The STRC's initial screening evaluates whether:

  • The proposal addresses key concern(s) for WSDOT operations.
  • WSDOT or other researchers have already adequately investigated the topic.
  • It overlaps with other existing research proposals or can be combined with other proposals.
  • Potential funding partners exist.

Preliminary Screening

The purpose of the preliminary screening is not to rank the research proposals, but to:

  • Screen out proposals too far removed from WSDOT’s interests and responsibilities, or that have already been covered in existing proposals or by previous research efforts
  • Strengthen the proposal by suggesting refinements, re-directions, or additions to the proposed study
  • Strengthen the proposal by integrating it with similar proposals or partnering with others interested in the same topic.

Screened proposals may be returned, with comments, to submitter; integrated with other proposals; or kept as-is. In the event that the SRTC fails to embrace the proposal, a submitter may elect to either abandon the proposal or work collaboratively to refine the proposal in order to adequately respond to the STRC's feedback. 


The STRC prioritizes promising proposals based on the following criteria:

  • Applicability and Practicality
    Research having practical application statewide or regionally will rank higher than those with limited applicability, or less practical applications.
  • Time-Sensitivity
    Research filling an immediate critical need will rank higher than proposals for more general or “pure” research.
  • Cost Considerations and Potential for Partnerships
    A qualitative cost-benefit evaluation will be performed for each proposal to determine whether the investment in the research effort will provide a valuable benefit to WSDOT. Proposal reviewers will also consider the availability of funds and funding partners.
  • Study Design Feasibility and Quality
    Proposal reviewers will evaluate whether the research method could be successfully deployed to yield useful results.
  • Degree of Knowledge Gap
    Research proposals may address topics that have been investigated to some degree by others. A high rank for this criterion will be applied to proposals where insufficient information exists or prior investigation has yielded inadequate knowledge.

Selected prioritized proposals will be placed on a master list of key research proposals, which will be maintained by the STRC. The list will be posted on the WSDOT's ESO Water Quality Program web site.


Proposals are selected, funded, and implemented, based on WSDOT priorities and available funding opportunities. Because funding criteria and restrictions vary from source to source, proposals may not necessarily be implemented solely based on the priority ranking. Thus while the strategy sets the research priorities, it can only influence the funding and implementation of individual research efforts.